The word on inclusion

Updated: 20 November, 2020 10:05 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

A new project introduces people to terms related to gender and sexuality through a digital dictionary

Representative pic
Representative pic

The basics of the gender and sexuality spectrum are missing from not only corporates but also in the online and offline social spaces," asserts Pallavi Pareek, CEO and founder of Ungender. A legal advisory firm based in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru, Ungender strives to make Indian workplaces safe for all genders. While conducting workshops on prevention of sexual harassment and gender sensitisation, they realised that people struggled to grasp concepts related to gender and use some without any understanding; common terms like patriarchy, gender roles and the wage gap, Pareek says, were ridden with incorrect and stereotyped notions.

To tackle this, the firm began putting together an English glossary of common, unknown, understood and misunderstood gender terms over eight months this year. Each term is summarised with a description, encapsulated in a graphic. These terms included the non-gendered pronoun Hir, "used by some transpeople to connote one's identity as both male and female" and the pink triangle that has been "a symbol for various LGBTQ identities." But then again, there was a dire need to go beyond English since Pareek points out that only 10 per cent of the Indian population speaks the language.

The dictionary comprises 33 words so far
The dictionary comprises 33 words so far

So, along with the youth organisation Aazaadi Foundation International, they put together a Hindi gender dictionary comprising 33 terms. It is presented in the same format as the one in English, but the key to getting the translation right was to ensure that the essence of each term stayed as close as possible to the intended meaning. "We have to constantly remind ourselves that these words and some phrases are being described and defined for the first time. We are creating the Hindi language for these words," Pareek shares.

Given constraints within the language itself, certain terms like intersex, gender nonconforming and aromantic are impossible to translate. This will continue to be a challenge as the team explores other languages. Pareek elaborates, "There is additional complication with words such as sex and gender — which both have the same Hindi meaning, ie ling, so further categorisation of gender as a 'samaajik ling' is made."

The dictionary comprises 33 words so far

The number of terms in the dictionary will grow, too. Pareek also says that a hard copy for the English and Hindi editions will be available in a few months' time. "We have already received numerous enquiries from the academic field, development professionals, corporates, and gender enthusiasts working on the ground," she adds.

Log on to ungender.in (for information regarding the toolkit)

Pallavi Pareek
Pallavi Pareek

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First Published: 20 November, 2020 09:05 IST

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