Globally, India has one of the largest cohorts of young men between the ages of 13 to 26 years. Their situation within the country, however, needs to be addressed. Far too many of them are under-educated, under-employed, and stuck in a low equilibrium. Far too few of them have positive role models and secure family lives. In addition, most of them wrestle with the perception of masculinity, which, in a feudal society like ours, is very conditional. It is commonly believed that you are not masculine enough if you are emotional, sensitive, or compassionate; that you are not “man enough” if you are not strong, if you are not the breadwinner in your family.
I wonder whether, in our work to empower young girls and women, we are ignoring one half of the problem, and therefore underestimating one half of the potential solution. If there is a morally undeniable societal goal of sarve bhavantu sukhinah – “May all be happy” – then we need to think about the situation of the 200 million young men in this country. And we need to turn to them with as much urgency and focus as we spend on the millions of young women, and their multiple needs.