An initiative taken by a government lower primary school in Valayanchirangara at Ernakulam district in Kerala has shown the way forward for gender neutrality with the introduction of a common uniform for all its students.
The policy was first introduced in 2018 by the then headmistress C Raji who implemented this decision after the approval from the school management committee and parents teachers committee.
She said, “gender equality was the main subject when we were talking about many factors to implement in the school. Therefore uniform came to mind. When I was thinking about, what to do with it, I could see that girls face a lot of problems when it comes to skirts. The idea of a change was discussed with everyone. 90 percent of parents supported this at that time. The kids were happy too. I feel very happy and proud that this is being discussed now.”
Under the gender-neutral uniform policy, all students can wear shirts and three-fourths trousers. This uniform made the children very confident, said Suma KP, the present Headmistress in-charge. “This uniform is very helpful for doing anything, especially for girls. They and their parents are very happy with this decision. The reason for this decision is the idea that boys and girls should have equal freedom and happiness,” she said.
“Gender equality should be in the minds of students and parents. Girls face many problems when wearing skirts. Problems occur when going to the toilet and while playing. That too is a factor. This dress is derived from the concept of a gender-neutral uniform. This is a 105-year-old school. Therefore, there was no significant opposition from anyone. The decision of the Academic Committee was accepted by all. It got more recognition than we intended,” said NP Ajayakumar former School Management Committee Chairman.
“My children joined this school in 2018. The boys and girls need equality, that’s the idea behind this. It’s the kind of uniform in which they can do with any activity, said V Vivek, Parents and Teachers Association President.
The gender-neutral uniform policy has also triggered a discussion on social media.