Boys will soon get lessons in gender sensitivity and moral behaviour.
The government has decided to initiate a scheme, Saksham, for the empowerment of adolescent boys — a rarity in the government, where the focus is mostly on the deprived girl child.
There are close to half a dozen schemes run by the central government for the empowerment of women and girls, including Sabla — a scheme for adolescent girls, and the national nutritional programme for teenaged girls.
Despite a slew of measures by the government to uplift women, crime against them is high and they also suffer bias in different forms and levels.
When it comes to education, boys get preference. Many girls are forced to leave their education to either look after younger siblings or earn for the family whereas boys continue with their education.
The societal bias has resulted in skewed sex ratio and poor nutritional and health level of girls.
More than a developmental issue, the government believes it is a social problem and cannot be tackled through financial empowerment programmes for girls.
“The mindset of men needs to be changed who are the decision-makers in Indian families,” says the UPA government's 12th plan document approved last Saturday, while claiming that girls suffer because of male bias.
To usher-in a change, the Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry wants to target young men — between 10 and 18 years — for their holistic development.
“The scheme should aim at inculcating the idea of gender-sensitivity and respect for the opposite sex,” the 12th plan document says.
The government has already allocated R10 lakh to start preparatory work on the scheme and the Planning Commission expects its roll-out from the next financial year.
It is the only new scheme the panel has proposed for the WCD ministry.