October 11, celebrated as International Day of Girl Child, addresses the issues of female foeticide, atrocities against women and children and spreads awareness around gender equality. Former Bollywood actor turned humanitarian Somy Ali feels the time is here for the world to change and understand what matters is humanity and not someone’s gender, cast, skin colour etc. She talks about what a girl child should be taught and that parents should avoid telling stories about being saved by a prince charming or a knight in shining armour, and encourage their daughters to write their own stories.
“The first thing that should be taught to a young girl is that being pretty is the least important aspect of her existence and does not matter for any reason whatsoever. What matters are her values and always doing the right things. What matters is that when she sees someone being ill-treated, she should interject and help them. She would be a voice for the voiceless. She should be taught that religion, race, creed, and caste systems do not matter because we are all one. We are all human! She should be taught not to be discriminatory toward anyone based on their sexual orientation. Yes, it is okay to teach a girl that same-sex love exists and it is completely equivalent to heterosexual love,” says Somy, who runs an NGO in Miami, No More Tears.
She highlights that there is no difference between what a boy and a girl can do. Hence, the importance of equal rights needs to be drilled into everyone.
“She should also be taught that the colour of her skin does not matter. She should be taught that it is discrimination when we have that perception of others. Rather than teaching her that her only goal is to eventually get married and have children, she should be taught that having a career and being a mother do not have to be mutually exclusive. It is essential to teach a young girl many elements for her psyche to ascertain that she is not less than a boy in any way whatsoever. She should also be explained what “stranger danger” means and that no one is allowed to touch her private parts. I can emphasize the significance of teaching a girl child all these as a survivor myself,” she adds. Somy feels that a girl child should not be spending her life looking for a husband. She also does not have to get married or have children if she does not have a desire to do so. “Parents should tell their daughters that no matter what wrong they think she may have done, they will never judge her and she can always come to them with the truth. Another thing is about equal pay and yes, this should be taught to a girl child at a very young age. If a male is getting paid for the same job she is doing and she performs equally well, then her salary too should be the same. She should be taught to stand up to bullies, not through violence, but by telling her parents… She should be taught that there are no perfect humans and there are no idols. No one is completely good or bad. We are all fully capable of making mistakes for as long as we live. There is no black and white when it comes to us, it’s a whole lot of gray,” she concludes.