Get Real, Dabur, Don’t Gender Discriminate!
9-year old girl chooses not to drink ‘Real’ as she thinks it is only for boys.
In America, people choose to write ‘her’ when they refer to a child; in India, we choose to write ‘him’ when we refer to a child. We are creatures of habit indeed and so far, have not come across anyone who would object to this.
However, recently, a 9-year old girl - Mriganka Majumder in all her innocence, complained to her father that the Dabur Real juice he bought, was not for her as the pack said, "Something that is good for your child should also make him smile". We are sure even her father was probably taken aback on hearing this from his young one. So, the father wrote to the company asking them to apologise for this gender discrimination, but after getting no response, he wrote to the Women and Child Development Minister, Maneka Gandhi. Maneka in turn wrote to Dabur and the company now has plans to change the packaging even though they issued a statement claiming that the packaging was not meant to be discriminatory.
We often see that writers for the purpose of brevity choose one gender over the other, be it in features in dailies, stories in magazine, in fiction or otherwise. When they have to be gender-neutral, we observe that they use the word ‘child’. But the moment they have to choose one, they prefer the masculine gender. Some try and write ‘his/her’, but as they get into a long paragraph, using ‘his/her’ every time, becomes tiresome to the writer and the reader both, so eventually they lapse into using the masculine gender.
Whether it’s rural or urban, developing countries or the western world, we have enough historical evidence to show the preference boys get over girls – right from sex determination tests that still continue in parts of the country although they are declared illegal to who will get the larger portion of the meal at home to who will get a fatter pay packet in the corporate world, given that both are equal or in many cases, the girl outshines the boy.
A lot of effort is on from various walks of life to change this and going by this little girl’s innocent response to Dabur’s packaging, things are looking up for women. Quite a few social and commercial campaigns like ‘Beti bachao. Beti padhao’ and ‘#Likeagirl’ fight for this noble cause. We as a society and a community and help with our mite. Here’s how:-
If you use the word ‘child’, follow it with ‘it’ and not ‘his’ or ‘her’
Wherever required, go for a gender-neutral term. Example – Say ‘Chairperson’ and not ‘Chairman’
If you must, use both ‘his/her’ – that will promote equal opportunity in all earnest
Work towards erasing stereotypes at a young age.
If we see the Dabur example, this is ‘real’ change that’s happening right now and right here. We are all smiles Mriganka and why not?
Go girl, go! Cheers!
S*****Yes Anupa. These oversights need to be corrected.
A*****It should be gender neutral or in the form s/he, his/her. Most of the hospitals, parenting groups, forums have adapted to writing 'she and her'. Don't why these FMCGs are still lagging behind.
S*****Very well written Sonali. Making a note of all your suggestions for future reference.