Meet the designer who designed gender-neutral uniforms for a Kerala school


While there are still gender-separated schools all over India, a co-ed school in Kerala has taken a major step forward to include gender in uniforms as well.

The Valayanchirangara Government Lower Primary School near Perumbavoor in Ernakulam District introduced gender-neutral uniforms, paving the way for discussions about gender segregation and the need for uniform choice statewide.

Welcoming the move, Kerala General Education Minister V Sivankutty tweeted: “Ideas of gender justice, equality and awareness will be put forward in curriculum reform. But these lessons should not be limited to textbooks. Admirable shot of Valayanchirangara LP School. Students of all genders will now wear the same uniform here – cropped pants and shirts. “

Behind the non-sexist uniforms introduced at school is hiding Vidya Mukundan, costume designer and aspiring filmmaker from Kochi.

Talk to His history, she explains how the idea and the implementation took root.

“I was approached by Binoy, academic director and president of the school’s PTA, in 2018, to design a gender-neutral uniform. I did a lot of research that led to further discussions with parents and the PTA, and we focused on shorts and shirts for boys and girls, ”she says.

Usually, uniforms in state schools stuck to shorts / pants / shirts for boys and skirts / shirts / churidars for girls.

Vidya introduced three-quarter length shorts for both sexes and a shirt. The only difference is that the boys ‘shirts have a zip in the front while the girls’ shorts have an elastic in the back.

Originally set up for kindergarten students, it received a favorable reception from all walks of life, especially those who felt comfortable in their new uniforms.

With school resuming recently, Vidya’s gender-neutral uniforms have made headlines for all the right reasons. Before the pandemic, students in grades I-IV could wear them, but the lockdown took place. From now on, the school, strong 754 students, began to force students to wear the new uniform.

“The kids are thrilled with the new uniform. They find it very comfortable to move around and play games. Previously, teachers complained that the girls did not show up to play sports, but the new uniform increased their confidence level, ”says Vidya.

Promote body positivity

Students in their new school uniforms

While the minister tweeted about gender-neutral uniforms, Vidya hopes it will be introduced to other schools soon once the new school year begins. She hopes this becomes a policy that finds adoption and acceptance statewide, promoting body positivity in children.

A fashion designer out of passion, Vidya had her store – Vidya’s – in Kochi which she closed during confinement. Currently, she consults with individual clients online and is also a personal shopper.

Vidya has also designed outfits for Asianet News presenters, commercials and TV shows. She is keen to get into costume design for movies.

She has also published a book of poems in Malayalam and won a Kerala Chalachithra Academy scholarship to conduct research on “Costume History in Malayalam Cinema”. She’s also ready with a script for a movie slated for release next year.

“I look forward to the time when there will be no more single-sex schools and unisex uniforms will become the norm,” Vidya concludes.


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