Gender-based discrimination is a complex and sensitive concept to tackle with students. However, the teachers at Mount Litera Zee School (MLZS), Haridwar believed it was important for their students to not only understand the concept of gender discrimination, but to also bring the principles of gender equality into their school and classrooms.
Using activities and ideas from the “Equality is Gender- Free” toolkit created by Amnesty International India’s Human Rights Education programme, the teachers conducted the “Problem- Solution Tree” activity conducted on 27th, April 2016 for students in class II and III.
The students were asked to write down what they perceived were examples of gender stereotypes in daily life. Some of the more common “problems” that emerged were that “They say that boys were more pampered at home, girls couldn’t play sports like football and cricket, and, boys were not supposed to cry or express their emotions. A discussion was then held, where students were asked to recommend solutions to each of the “problems” that were highlighted.”
This activity also gave teachers an opportunity to understand the kinds of stereotypes faced in class by their students. “It was a wonderful experience to interact with children and understand their mindset on such sensitive issues, “said one of the teachers at MLZS Haridwar. The activity was not just a learning for the students but also a positive impact for teachers while they agreed to accept the fact that talent should be measured beyond gender.
In addition to this, a “Let’s Talk” activity was initiated by the teachers, where various case studies on gender stereotypes were touched upon. The students of classes VI, VII and VIII were involved in a group discussion to highlight steps to overcome gender stereotypes in society. “Nowadays, girls are taking up challenging jobs. There is lots of scope for women in today’s world” says a class class VIII student. The teachers encouraged the students to combat the gender issue with a positive attitude and asked them to put it into practice in their daily school life.
Amnesty International’s “Equality is Gender-Free” toolkit (Download here) is an inclusive kit for teachers to help their students in schools to understand and question the various stereotypes faced in a classroom. The toolkit lays emphasis on formation of a rights- respecting society, and how to break down the complexity of gender-based discrimination.