Gender equality is a huge issue both domestically and globally. The marches that have occurred during the last few months, as well as changes in government legislation, are seeking to address the gender gap. In this climate, students need a space to form their own opinions and discuss with those who share different views to their own.
Gender plays a central role in almost all development issues from health and poverty to the economy and therefore deserves time in the classroom for students to learn about it – and development more generally.
The changes that I would like to see take place in schools regarding gender issues and global development are already starting to happen. Far from my own personal experience in education, schools are now open to the discussion of gender and development, welcoming charities such as Development in Action to run workshops in school time, which is fantastic. Teachers themselves are often educated on the subject and enthusiastic in encouraging their students to participate in discussions. However, if something still needs to change, it is the curriculum itself. Adding social issues, for example, gender equality, formally, would give a reflection of how important they are within our global society.
I delivered four, 50-minute gender equality workshops at Calday Grange Grammar School in the Wirral, Liverpool. In my case the travel to the workshop location and the adaptation of the workshop itself were the two most challenging aspects. Long travel distance is sometimes unavoidable and can only be mitigated by extensive planning and preparedness. Adapting a gender equality workshop for an all-male group was difficult. To address the lack of gender diversity I had to question the narrative of the workshop and re-adjust some of the activities to meet with the aims of an all-male group.
My experience of delivering the workshops made me feel very positive. I felt that I used my spare time well creating a project that I was enthusiastic about, and which positively impacted the students as well as having the chance to learn and develop personally and professionally.
The teachers were happy and surprised in some cases to see just how maturely some of their students engaged with a workshop on gender, particularly in an all boys’ school. The students themselves – especially the younger students – found it exciting and enjoyable to have their opinions heard and be taken seriously by their fellow students and an external workshop leader. Hopefully I am creating an encouraging example for these students by taking this kind of social action.
I wanted to deliver workshops for Development in Action because of their ethos of engaging young people in development issues and promoting global citizenship, both of which I agree as being fundamental to change. Young people must be engaged with global issues, both in a learning environment and later, by taking social action for the future. School itself should be a forum for open discussion, opinions should be respected and the classroom should be a place where students feel confident and comfortable to voice them. When students are informed through facts and allowed to form their own opinions, their confidence increases and so will the level of future discussion.
Want to be a DiA workshop leader? Contact Hannah Lines at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.
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