Life Skills are as important in India as they are in the rest of the world – for every child, adolescent, and adult. However, owing to the still largely patriarchal nature of Indian society, the Life Skills education imparted at home and in schools is highly gendered. Young boys are taught to be assertive, to think critically, and are empowered to make their own decisions – all skills that help them grow professionally. Girls, on the other hand, are encouraged to be empathetic, resilient, and to develop interpersonal skills at a very young age, as this is learning they are expected to implement in their personal lives. This deeply gendered system of training disadvantages all children as they grow into adulthood, but is strongly biased against girl child as it fails to equip them with the skills necessary to thrive in their professional lives.
Due to this, some specific skills must be given special attention so that the girl child in India is able to handle complex situations, and when necessary, adapt to them as well. These include:
1. Assertiveness: As children, this will help adolescent girls stand up to bullying/gossiping, and develop a sense of self-esteem. As adults, being assertive will enable women to use the vital skills of negotiation and refusal in every sphere of their lives.
2. Decision making and Critical thinking: Empowering adolescent girls to make decisions for themselves by evaluating the consequences of their choices today, will create a powerful generation of women capable of making the best decisions for themselves with regard to their economic empowerment, their bodily autonomy, and their overall wellbeing.
3. Coping and self-management: Educating the girl child about stress management and emotional regulation will allow her to deal with difficult people and situations firmly, improving her self-image in particular, and her resilience on the whole.
The above mentioned life skills will not only help girls navigate their own life with confidence but will also empower them to make decisions consciously, making them independent both emotionally and economically. The objective of Life Skills training is to create a generation capable of navigating through complex social relationships in a global society that is becoming more and more cohesive every day. As such, if we as a society do half of our population the disservice of not equipping them with these skills, we will all suffer.
It is for this reason that Indian girls must receive a more comprehensive life skills education than they currently do.
"The educational systems should rely on three solid foundations: enhancing values, life skills, and formal educational curriculum. Each of these bases completes the other, none of them can stand on its own. "