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The sustainable revolution in society is being spearheaded by youth. However, it must be spearheaded by both women and men. Gender equality and sustainability go hand in hand. In that sense, developing leadership skills among youth is especially important for girls, as girls become more passive throughout traditional formal schooling. Through various teaching methods employed by teachers in formal and non-formal education, we oftentimes unknowingly encourage gender inequality (praise and feedback, lack of gender-neutral language, socialization of femininity - teachers socialize female students to strive for a feminine ideal etc., not to mention gender bias in textbooks). Every time we say “boys will be boys”, we further support gender inequality. Every time we label a girl a “tomboy”, we further promote gender inequality.
In this activity, teachers and youth workers are encouraged to employ some of the tools that can be used for promoting gender equality and leadership skills for girls in both formal and informal education.
2 hours - several months!
To get acquainted with and adopt gender equality tools for developing leadership skills in girls in education
To make youth aware of some of the issues and solutions in terms of gender equality
Required Materials and tools:
A talking stick, paper for presentation, markers;
A computer or projector for the introductory video
Divide the participants into small groups of maximum 6, 7 people; make sure there is equal percentage of girls and boys in the groups. Remember: small collaborative discussion groups encourage both female and male participation.
Open the activity by showing a video on gender equality (you can use some of the videos provided in the Resource section below).
Give the participants 15-20 min to reflect on the video(s) and discuss what they saw within the group. Ask them to reflect on gender equality nowadays. Use the questions provided in the Reflection section below.
Each participant should share their opinion when you start the debriefing session. To promote gender equality in teacher/student interaction, a talking stick can be used - each speaker shares her/his opinion and passes the stick to the next person. Alternatively, in case you opt out of a talking stick, allow enough time (3-5 seconds before calling out a name) - boys usually raise their hands faster, while female participants often wait until they have a well-formulated response. Call on girls as much as you call on boys (according to research, female and male teachers involuntarily and unknowingly call on boys more often than girls). A good way for self-check is to video-record one lesson/workshop. In addition, think of the way you interact with girls and boys - avoid being blokeish with boys and gentle with girls. Studies demonstrate that boys usually receive more praise from teachers - make sure you provide equal feedback to both girls and boys! And of course, make sure you use gender-neutral language in classroom discourse!
Now the groups go back to group work and have to think of inspirational women throughout history that challenged the traditional norms (this can also include women of the present-day society). The youth can even do internet research for this. Allow some 20 minutes for this. Each group has to present 2, 3 women that broke the traditional roles assumed by women and took on roles usually undertaken by their male counterparts. It can be female scientists, activists, resistance fighters, anyone from Marie Curie to Jeanne d’Arc! (but stay away from the entertainment ladies, please!) Each group presents the female role models for 10 minutes. A presentation paper can be used. This can include a drawing, a picture, a few words on the paper or even a figure made out of old newspaper!
*If you are doing this activity in a classroom in formal education, create a “Girl Power” inspiration corner in the classroom, where such female role models can be “exhibited” on paper. This way, girls can be reminded everyday of what they can achieve. The percentage of women in science and mathematics is lower than men and this is often attributable to how children’s attitudes are shaped in childhood. Unlike boys, girls need to see females involved in certain fields before they can visualize themselves in the same roles. It is also advisable to bring female scientists/mathematicians/engineers to retell their story or organize a small workshop with female students – this way, girls get inspired. Additionally, you can organize field trips to STEM companies (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education) where girls get a one-day (or even a summer!) internship to get engaged in the STEM sector from a tender age.
Reflect on the videos. What are the childhood gender roles? When does gender get formed? What is the difference between gender and sex?
Why should we care about gender equality – what is its correlation with poverty, the workplace etc?
What about men, how do men benefit from gender equality?
Instructions for Submission
Submit your written reflection in Moodle. Instructions on how to submit your written reflection in Moodle can be found here: Instructions on Submission&Uploading
Instructions for Assessment
Provide feedback to at least one participant that has done this activity. Instructions on providing feedback can be found here: Instructions on Feedback
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