Educational institutions that are supposed to be the hallmark of enlightenment many times fuel gender inequality. It shows in the big decisions, chore assignments, and in little conversations. To achieve gender equality, we have to promote it in our schools.
Here are ways we can:
1. Encourage female leadership. Don’t automatically choose male leaders or select male candidates for leadership. Encourage girls to volunteer and participate in leadership.
2. Focus on abilities, not gender. Assign roles and responsibilities like the class captain, etc to people who are qualified.
3. When you have both male and female senior prefects, don’t say that the boy is the number one citizen of the school. Let both of them be recognized as the first citizens of the school.
4. Encourage girls to be athletic by training and organizing outdoor sports for them. Don’t call an athletic girl a “boy”. Don’t call a boy who prefers card or board games a “girl.”
5. Give everyone equal opportunities to contribute in class. Always let everyone know that they have something to contribute to the lesson or topic being talked about.
6. Divide chores and classroom duties equally. Don’t reserve particular chores for boys (maybe fetching water or cutting grasses) or girls (sweeping or mopping floors).
7. When you’re teaching about profession, show the students that women can be presidents, firefighters, judges. Also, show them that men can be chefs, nurses, hairdressers.
8. Encourage healthy competition among boys and girls. Don’t make boys feel bad when a girl tops the class. Don’t make girls feel like they’ve done wrong when they do so well in school.
9. Don’t tell girls that their education ends in the kitchen. Don’t correct them with phrases like, “Is that how you will do this/that in your husband’s house?”
10. Don’t say “You talk like a girl” or “You’re behaving like a girl” when you want to scold a boy. Stop giving them the impression that female is synonymous with weaknesses and wrongs.
11. Encourage parents to stop restricting their girls from studying science courses. This sensitization can be done through the Parent-Teacher Association Meeting.
12. Teach boys that it is okay to be vulnerable or to cry when you’re overwhelmed. Teach girls that it is okay to assert yourself & speak loudly especially when you feel insulted or threatened.
13. Teach girls to have ambition: To be unapologetic & unashamed about their dreams, their needs/wants, their values & the things they believe in or are passionate about.
14. When organizing empowerment, capacity-building or development programs for girls, don’t leave the boys out. Create similar programs that they can learn/benefit from.
15. Don’t encourage sexist language in school. Whenever students talk that way, always stop them in their tracks and school them. You can devise a sort of punishment – (eg research assignment which they have present in front of the school) for people who insist on being sexist.