Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

The Societal norms sometime are big hurdles in achieving transformative impacts. Look for instance some norms in parts of India's rural areas:

1. Women will take food only when men have finished their meals. A wife is expected to eat only when husband has finished food. Generally, women are left with little food especially vegetables and better part of food cooked has already been eaten by males. Women mostly cook food and they are the last one to eat it.

2. Holding a baby in lap, feeding babies/baby sitting are considered unmanly in some societies/communities in parts of India.

3. Wife can not walk by the side of her husband, she has to walk a little behind. This conveys a lot about the prevailing mind-set which has many ramifications.

These are just a few of the social norms but speaks volume on gender relations in societies. Women are not allowed education after certain level and also, they can not go for jobs even if they are capable to take. Women running business is a distant dream in such societies. India has progressed a lot, there are many schemes and programmes and reservations for women at different levels to empower them. The societal norms mentioned above are getting weakened with passing time yet the progress in gender transformative impacts is slow due to these norms.

Recently we organized a Rural Youth Mentoring Programme (…;) to attract and retain youth in agriculture. We found it difficult to make it gender balanced since parents were reluctant to send their daughters  to mentoring programme, while boys had no such problem. In many other similar capacity building programmes, boys/men freely participate while women are left out not by choice but by familial pressure or circumstances. From here itself difference arise as women miss the opportunities, which otherwise could have equipped them with awareness, knowledge and skills to take up productive entrepreneurial tasks. We plan now, in coming months, to motivate parents to send their daughters to mentoring programmes, may be we have to work more in our efforts to motivate parents. The Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVKs) in India organize a large number of training programmes for men women, youth on various aspects of agriculture and value addition, here too often they face problems in ensuring participation of women. Women are not able to particpate full time due to their familiy responsibiliites, while men are not affected on this count. Its a matter again of unequal opportunities which can be corrected with suitable family level couunselling of all family members that men & women alike need training for better outcome of efforts.