Gender Equality workshop with fourth graders at a government school in suburban Lucknow
How can children develop a mindset of gender equality in the 21st century? Rather than introducing a lecture based curriculum, we are taking an innovative approach by introducing children to Seema and Aman. Seema and Aman are two fictitious children who write letters to classrooms and make ‘pen friends’ with every child. Seema is eight years old while Aman is nine. Through letters they share their lives and challenges that children in the classroom work together to help solve.
In their first letter to the classroom. Seema shares her dream to fly a rocket when she grows up and also shares the doubts raised by friends about her dream being unrealistic for a girl. This first workshop was carried was carried with 29 students of government primary school in Chinhat (Lucknow). It dealt with the topic of gender roles and career choices. The workshop comprised of play based activities with children to help them realize that both boys and girls are equally capable of achieving any dream and can work in any domain. A small pre-test conducted at the start of the workshop showed us that at this age children already hold beliefs and biases about what girls can do and cannot do.
It was first of the seven workshops planned under the ‘Gender Harmony and Equality’ life skill training module being created by Khel Planet. Other topics in the module include gender stereotypes, gender based violence, legal rights and recourse, working in co-ed teams, child labor and child brides.
The central theme of the module will revolve around letters from Seema and Aman. Aman and Seema will enter the school lives of children in grade 4 through the medium of writing letter and grow older each year with same children. Along the way, both will face multiple challenges in their own lives and in lives of their fictitious friends and family. School children will strive to understand Aman and Seema’s challenges to help them overcome those; and will also rejoice with their achievements and successes. In the process, it is expected that children will inherently grow up to be more in harmony with their individuality, undo gender biases and stereotypes at school and in community. As a collective, they will be able to influence and stand up for gender equity and equality in society.
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