2016 has been an eventful year for gender equality in India. From women becoming fighter pilots to transgender bands winning international awards, we have seen some notable victories that will be remembered in times to come. We’ve put together a list of a few of those notable events that are bound to push gender equality discourse in the right direction:
Telangana becomes first state to make gender education compulsory
In January, the newly-formed state of Telangana became the first Indian state to introduce compulsory gender education at graduate level. The bilingual textbook ‘Towards a World of Equals’ introduced on a pilot basis in engineering colleges offers a holistic view of gender issues without restricting itself to crimes against women.
Kerala gets India’s first gender park
In February, Kerala’s coastal city Kozhikode became home to the country’s first ‘Gender Park’ – a gender equality convergence centre that aims to reduce gender inequalities. An initiative of the Social Justice Department of the Kerala Government, it will give the state, academia and the general public a common platform to discuss gender issues.
IAF gets its first female fighter pilots
Avani Chaturvedi from Madhya Pradesh, Bhawana Kanth from Bihar and Mohana Singh from Rajasthan created history in June this year when they became India’s first female fighter pilots. This achievement of these three young women is a significant milestone in India’s military history.
India’s first transgender music band wins at Cannes Lions International Festival
From being rejected by their family to being embraced by music lovers all over the world, the members of India’s first transgender band – the 6 Pack Band have come a long way. In this year’s Cannes Lion, the band won the coveted Grand Prix Glass Lion. They have also released five videos and boast of a whopping 25 million views on YouTube!
Woman gets IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea
Captain Radhika Menon of the Indian Merchant Navy scripted history when she became the first woman in the world to receive the IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea for 2016. She was given this prestigious award in acknowledgement of her role in saving the lives of seven fishermen from a sinking boat in the Bay of Bengal in June 2015.
Indian female athletes bring home Olympic glory
Rio 2016 proved to be a memorable event for India’s female players. Sakshi Malik overcame prejudice to become the first Indian woman to win a medal in wrestling. Badminton player P.V. Sindhu inspired millions by becoming the first female athlete from India to win an Olympic silver medal.
Women win the right to enter Shani Shingnapur temple and Haji Ali Dargah
This year also saw two landmark judgements allowing women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Mumbai’s famous Haji Ali Shrine and Shani Shingnapur temple, a privilege that was reserved only for men. These court verdicts are results of years of struggle, dedication and sacrifice of women activists who fought for their rights.
Father’s name not compulsory on passport
Passport authorities will no longer insist on a father’s name to issue a passport. The Delhi High Court recently ruled that mother’s name is sufficient if she’s a single mother.
India’s first all-women newspaper turns digital
Khabar Lahariya, India’s first and only newspaper staffed, edited and run by women turned digital this year. This decision to take advantage of India’s digital revolution proved fruitful as between April and June this year, the website received more than 700,000 hits!
Indian sprinter fights gender testing rules and wins
Indian sprinter Dutee Chand suffers from hyperandrogenism that makes her body naturally produce such high levels of testosterone that the IAAF considers her to be a male. So she was banned from competing as a female athlete, a decision that she successfully challenged. The best part – Dutee’s determination to fight this injustice also opened doors for other female players with the same condition. Way to go, Dutee!
Tamil Nadu police force to have transgender officers
Recently, Tamil Nadu Police paved way for transgender people to become a part of the force. With this, Tamil Nadu becomes the first state in India to allow transgender police officers.
These achievements underscore that change is taking place in our society that will hopefully lead to the creation of a more gender equal world. So how are you contributing towards building one?