Weaving Tales and Breaking Stereotypes

India

The Princess builds her own Skateboard and travels around the globe (Part of Breaking the Stereotype series). Illustrator: Jennifer Wentling.

As an Empower Women Champion for Change, I took a close look at children’s literature. I found that it is not uncommon to find stories where caregiving and home care is associated with women while men are the breadwinners who participate in all kinds of economic activities. Fairytales have contributed to reinforcing gender stereotypes; illustrating princesses as "damsel in distress" who needs a man to save her.

Stories for centuries have continued to influence the minds of children and youth. It is therefore no surprise that our girls believe that they are weak and our boys expressing their desire to be strong. They have both internalized these traits through our literature's powerful narratives. 

Thus, stories play a powerful role in shaping children's perspectives about themselves, others or the world we live in. And it becomes important that we create a balanced narrative that is free of any gender bias. With this objective in mind, during my tenue as a 2016-2017 Global Champion for Change, I founded the Tale Weavers. This is an initiative that aims to engage with children and the youth through stories that challenge stereotypes and empower them with different life skills.

Through simple conversations, colorful illustrations, and powerful characters, I aspire to create a world where boys do not shy away from careers in arts and girls pursue science,  technology, engineering and math (STEM). A world where children are equipped with basic financial literacy skills that will inculcate in them the importance of savings and money management from a very young age. A world where our princesses no longer dress in pink or need a prince to come to their rescue but are strong independent women who take on challenges.

Through a diverse and dynamic bank of stories, Tale Weavers will soon start on the ground workshops where we will generate awareness and create opportunities to help students break the conventional gender norms and empower themselves with better skills and knowledge.

 Kaya and Kabir save for a rainy day (Part of Financial Literacy series) Illustrator: Raghu Ramachandran

I would also like to thank the UN Women’s Empower Women team that recognized me as one of the Global Champions for Change and provided me an opportunity to engage and empower my community.

More about Tale Weavers here.   

Photographer & Videographer Credit: Jennifer Wentling and Raghu Ramachandran

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  • Johnny Cash
    Wow! This is so inspiring, thanks for sharing your experience. I admire your resilience.
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  • Ashton Keynes
    Stories play a powerful role in shaping children's perspectives about themselves!
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  • andrea belly
    Today women is also reaching the goals that mens doing. a women can change the world and also can change a home as well we stay. I am 19 years old still i am not set my room only my mom can change it but now my mom is so far from me. it is my 6 month that i am not meet my mom i really miss her she is only one who loves me lot and $1 hosting understand me more and more.
  • Walter Scott
    English assignment due Monday, because we have a field trip tomorrow. The prompt is here: Write Me an Ez Assignment & Your school has a foreign exchange student visiting. This student has never been in the country and is unfamiliar with your customs and school system. You have been chosen as part of a welcoming committee to help show the student around your school and town. Write a story about showing the student how to fit in in your school and town. 
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  • Sister zeph
    This will be a great thing to do I would love to invite you to visit my school in Pakistan too and have this conversation with my students too, UN Women is doing a great work to bring equality in our world 
    • Sister zeph
      Dear Sharada let us do it my email ID is zephaniahacademy@yahoo.com and I cannot wait to be conencted with you 
    • Sharda Vishwanathan
      Thank you so much, Sister Zeph. I would love to explore how our stories can be used for sessions with your students. Please feel free to drop me a message and we can discuss this in detail.
    2 of 2 Replies
  • Ogbeyalu Okoye
    This is truly great Veronica.Thank you!
  • Veronica Ngum Ndi
    This is so inspirational. Thanks for sharing
    • Sharda Vishwanathan
      Thank you so much, Veronica :) Would love to hear your thoughts :) 
    1 of 1 Replies
  • caroline nyakeri
    This is brilliant Sharda. We all remember vividly the books we read as children and they affected our perceptions. Stories focused on outward beauty of girls/ women and the constant rescue mode from boys/men as knights in shining armour.  This should give our girls a good start. See you as a best seller soon! Good Job!
    • Sharda Vishwanathan
      Thank you so much, Caroline, for the lovely message. You are absolutely right. At an age when they are very impressionable, engaging with them on issues around gender equality can go a long way in changing perceptions and bringing about the change we are all working towards. Like I mentioned in my previous message, I would love to connect with organizations/ individuals who wish to use our stories and activities and engage with children in their communities. So please feel free to connect with me, should you be interested in exploring this further :) 
    1 of 1 Replies
  • Grace Pisirai
    Wonderfull, i love your work with children Sharda and i love the graphics. I wish you the best of success!!!
    • Sharda Vishwanathan
      Thank you so much Grace for the lovely message :) I am glad you like the illustrations and the stories. We are also working on activities as a follow-up to the stories. I would love to connect with organizations/ individuals who wish to use our stories and activities and engage with children in their communities. So please feel free to connect with me, should you be interested in exploring this further :) 
    1 of 1 Replies
  • Uzoma Katchy
    Thanks for sharing
    1 of 1 Replies
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