Thursday, 14 July 2016

Gender Equality, Compassion and Respect

We held the second instalment of the gender equality workshop for children between ages eleven and thirteen (Classes 6 to 8) at the Akshar Arbol International School, Chennai. Building upon the earlier workshop, this time, we focused on gender roles, humanizing all genders, recognizing intersectional similarities and recognizing and embracing all genders. 

We focused on experiential sharing, and invited students to talk about their interests in terms of what they liked to do, things that made them sad and their role models, and built into the conversation by engaging on the gender quotient and the role it plays in structuring choices. The kids were open minded and empathetic, and enthusiastic. It was interesting to see how perceptions had been buttressed since our previous session. 

One of the themes we spoke about was the notion of respect and compassion for all humans, and extending it beyond oneself, one's friends, one's family, one's society, one's world - into the world of other little creatures. Three little girls took the conversation rather seriously, and were seen rescuing a lost bug - by gently offering him a page in their notebook, and releasing him onto the floor again in a corner, where he was at no risk of being stamped upon. We learned such a beautiful lesson with this one!

Following the session, towards the end, we got the children to share something they have found to be appreciable about the other genders - the idea being that given that stereotypes are inevitable, positive ones should replace negative ones. We had some very inspiring responses from the children. Three of them (one pictured below) said that they admired Transgendered people the most. The reason being, "... We live in a world that defines what is normal and what is not. To stand up to that rigid definition, and to choose to transition from one gender to the other, is not easy. It takes so much courage to do that." 

The median age for this group was twelve. Yep, we're still waking up from the inspiration they left us with! 


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