Gender-equitable attitudes are often constructed during adolescence, making this a critical time to alter gender perceptions. However, there is little research on gender attitudes and gender equity in early adolescence, especially in India.
This study is a cross-sectional sample of 1,691 participants 8–18 years from three Northern India states. Surveys were collected on mobile tablets and assessed gender perceptions and attitudes. Gender-equitable scores were categorized into low, medium and high. Gender-equitable attitudes and gender vary by grade (p < .001). Gender-equitable attitudes improved with grade, but boys were 46% less likely to be in the moderate category compared to the low category as grade increased (p < .01).
Compared to girls, boys were 56% less likely to be in the high category compared to the low category as grade increased (p < .001). Early adolescence is a unique opportunity to address gender attitudes before they become more solidified.
Despite the gains India has made over the past 20 years, it remains a country with significant gender inequalities. Gender sensitization and empowerment programs during adolescence, when gender attitudes are formed, have the potential to diminish gender inequity.
The Girl Rising ‘Gender-sensitization program’ was implemented in 254 schools in India to support adolescents in identifying, articulating, and sharing their gender-related experiences.
A quasi-experimental study was conducted with a one group pre- and post-test with a sub-sample of schools in rural Punjab and Rajasthan, India (n = 2,894 adolescents). Multivariable regression analyses adjusting for gender, grade, and district found that gender equality scores increased by 0.66 points (p < .001), gender roles/privileges/restrictions mean score increased by 0.41 points (p < .001), and gender attribute mean score increased by 0.17 points (p < .001).
Gender-sensitization programs can play an important role in forming and changing gender attitudes during adolescence, and have the potential to alter their short and long-term beliefs.