Gender Respect Project 2013-2016

Aiming to help children and young people to understand, question and challenge gender inequality and violence.

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Teacher Blog: Kathryn

Women in India (Y5)

The following information and video was shared with the pupils:

In the past

In the past, the status of women in India was inferior to men in daily life. However, they had a higher status in scriptures, such as Goddess Saraswati, Goddess Durga, Parvati and Kali. They are famous for being tough and determined and devoted to their families.

In India, many women did not have the same rights or freedoms as men. They were not allowed to leave their homes, be educated or take on roles in the community. Women were prohibited from taking on external matters as well as domestic matters. They were under the influence of their parents before marriage & their husband after marriage. They were treated badly by their husbands, for example they ate after their husbands, sometimes eating their husband’s leftovers.


In modern times, women in India are given rights and freedom. There are a number of women education grants that offer help to women from poor backgrounds to be educated.

The government of India provides money that women who have business ideas can borrow in order to start businesses. Women are encouraged to start small businesses in order to have their own source of income and become independent.

The status of women in India has greatly improved and there are many women who hold high positions in the government and businesses.

Women Off the Map video link showing empowerment of women in Neemrana

Images and quotes from Indian women

The children then developed their questions, using this quadrant (adapted from SAPERE P4C Level 1 handbook):

P4C quadrant

These were some of their questions:

  • Why don’t women get lots of money compared to men?
  • Why does it have to be women?
  • What is the point of having rights if they can’t use them?
  • Why can’t men serve women?
  • Why don’t women have equal rights as men?
  • Why are women treated badly?
  • Why do you think women are treated badly and men are treated well?
  • Why do men have more power?
  • What can we do to get more rights for women?

The chosen question was: Why can’t men serve women?

These are some of the children’s thoughts that they wrote down after the philosophy circle.

‘I think men should serve women because they do all the hard work and the men just relax and get free food. So for a change I think women should relax and all of the men serve and do the hard work.’

‘I think that women in India should be treated differently. They should be able to go to work and school and be educated. I think the men should help the women and do some cooking. The men should look after the children and help them to have fun.’

‘India: Because men are bigger than women. In 2009 women got tired and started to complain. The president changed the rules and now men can do the job as well.’

‘Sheffield: Sheffield is a big place and women don’t have all the things that women have in India. Women in Sheffield, even teenagers, are not scared of men.’

‘I think it was a good thing to discuss because the way women in India used to be treated wasn’t right. It helped us come up with good ideas about how we can stop it. I think that they should be treated equally because women are capable of working proper paid jobs. It should be fair and maybe they could do what we do in Britain.’

‘I think that the husband and wife should share the work equally so that they would not fight or get tired. If men are really physically stronger than women, why don’t they do more work?’



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Teacher Blog: Kathryn

Y4 P4C about Gender

Stimulus: images from Google (search ‘gender stereotypes’)

Chosen question: Why do people think that there are things just for girls and just for boys?

‘If you saw a Barbie, a sister might not want to play but a brother might. If a boy wanted something girly, they might want Barbie.’

‘Dolls have pink accessories and packaging. Blue is for boys. I think more girls like pink.’

‘Boys and girls should be treated the same. I don’t think it makes any difference if boys and girls like different toys. They should have what they want.’

‘Boys might not want a cricket set, but a sporty girl might.’

‘Girls and boys are treated differently. Girls like pink and boys like blue. I don’t want pink frilly clothes; it’s hard when I go shopping.’

‘Girls might like playing with Xbox. My brother sometimes plays girls’ games.’

‘Girls shouldn’t say ballet dancing is only for girls – boys can do it too.’

‘If you went to a boy shop and you wanted a football, it wouldn’t be fair if dad said no.’

‘There is no difference between girls and boys – they should like whatever they want. They should be able to play with whatever they want.’

‘My friend’s mum is good at sports. I have a sticker of ‘My Little Pony’ on Xbox. It doesn’t matter what you like, just be yourself.’

‘I don’t always like girls’ clothes. Girls should have the right to pick boys’ stuff. It’s the same for boys.’

‘I think boys would feel left out if they were treated like that (not allowed to do ballet). There shouldn’t be such thing as a tomboy and no such thing as girl and boy things.’

‘I like parcours. I wanted a bike for my birthday, but I didn’t want a ‘girly’ one with hearts and kisses. Boys’ bikes are much better.’

‘My cousins dress up. The boys dress up in dresses and make up. Girls sometimes put boys’ clothes on.’

‘A boy’s favourite colour can be purple/pink. A girl’s favourite colour can be blue etc.’

‘My brother used to like wearing princess clothes.’

‘When you go into Tesco’s, I don’t think girls and boys stuff should be separate.’

‘Boys might like Barbie but others might laugh.’

‘Girls like gymnastics. Boys like boys’ things – it shouldn’t be like that.’

‘Why should boys like Barbie? That’s for girls!’

‘I disagree about tomboys. Some people think that boys and girls things are separate. It depends on people’s thinking – if they believe there are separate girls and boys things or not.’

‘Barbie is not just for girls, just because they have long hair and dresses. You can get boy ones too.’

‘I used to have a friend who wore a pink frilly dress and her brother wore a dress and a wand. My friend went to a girls’ dance school but her brother wasn’t allowed to go.’

‘I like football and girls to do. Boys might like ballet or gymnastics.’

‘I have a t-shirt with pink on it. My mum likes blue. My sister plays football.’

‘I think there should be a mix-up in shops with toys and clothes. I think there should be no such thing as a tomboy; it could be a boy or a girl. You should get what you want.’

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Teacher Blog: Kathryn

Thinking about Gender: Y3

Following a session on Commedia Dell’Arte, as part of our One World Week work on Italy, we thought about the roles that men and women play in the theatre. I gave the children 2 sheets of paper, one with the word ‘boy’ and one with the word ‘girl’. I asked them to write down anything that they associated with being a girl or a boy.



  • Boys can put make up on if they’re dressing up as a girl.
  • Boys like football, rugby, basketball and video games.
  • Boys can be cheeky and sneaky.
  • Karate, tennis, hockey, acting, watching TV, singing, running, sewing, hair gel, football, cars, rugby, racing.
  • In the olden times, only men were allowed to act.
  • Some boys like football, rugby and playing tag.


  • Girls and boys don’t have to do separate sports.
  • Girls can dress up as boys.
  • Violin, badminton, flowers, art, ponies, ballet, singing, music, teddies, knitting, animals, football, gymnastics.
  • I like being a girl because we get to wear lots of nice dresses.
  • I like football, even though I’m a girl.
  • Some girls like boyish things.
  • Girls like to dress nice. They also like playing with dolls and princesses.
  • Sometimes boys can’t understand them.


The children were then given the opportunity to walk around the classroom, looking at images of tomboys, girls playing football and climbing trees, girls dressed as knights, boys in dresses and kilts, pantomime dames and women in suits.

They were asked 5 questions and asked to stand on a continuum line to show whether they agreed (yes/thought it was OK) or disagreed (no/thought it was not OK). Below are some of their comments.

  1. Do you feel happy playing with girls and boys?

‘Yes, I’m happy playing with both boys and girls. Boys are just like girls.’

‘I’m not sure, I don’t play with girls, I prefer rough games and football (boy).’

  1. Do you mind if people are tomboys?

‘I don’t want to play with tomboys, I don’t want to play rough (girl).’

‘I play football, I like playing rough games and games with boys. I play tennis with my dad (girl).’

  1. Do you think it’s OK for women to wear suits?

‘I don’t know if women should wear suits (girl).’

‘Yes, I bought a suit on holiday (girl).’

‘No, it looks really weird (girl).’

  1. Do you think it’s OK for men to wear skirts (kilts)?

‘No, my brother wore a skirt and it looked weird. People laughed (girl).’

‘Yes, boys wear a dress at their christening (boy).’

‘Yes, I’ve seen a boy wearing a skirt with shorts. He didn’t look silly (girl).’

‘Maybe. It doesn’t look silly. I’m not sure if they should wear it (girl).’

  1. Do you think it’s OK for men to be pantomime dames?

‘Yes, it’s OK for men to dress up as ladies. If there’s no other option, men have to do it (girl).’

‘No, men have to put make up on and everyone laughs at them (girl).’


The children then developed their own questions and chose this question for their philosophy circle:

Is it OK for girls to do boys things and boys to do girls things?

Girls’ comments

‘All girls don’t have to do girl things.’

‘It’s OK for girls and boys to play together. Some girls are tomboys, they like playing football and rugby.’

‘I don’t like playing rough stuff, it can hurt people.’

‘Girls and boys should do both. Some boys like doing gymnastics, some girls like playing football. You can play what you like, but not rough because you could break something.’

‘At playtime I play a boys’ game with my friend (who’s a boy).’

‘When we’re outside, everyone can play together. They can pick which game they want to play.’

Boys’ comments

‘I mind because I’m a boy. I don’t want to play princesses or Barbie or other girl things. I like football (disagreement from girls, who said they don’t all like to play princesses).’

‘Boys and girls can do whatever they want. Parcours is like gymnastics. I like that. Girls like riding bikes, some boys like gymnastics.’

‘Girls and boys can play anything they want. My little brother loves gymnastics. I like video games, gymnastics and dancing. I like being creative, like some girls do.’

‘Boys can play girls’ games and girls can play boys’ games. Some girls play football, boys can do gymnastics.’

‘Some girls like to play boy things and some like to play girl stuff- it’s whatever they want. They can choose their own life. They are free to do whatever they want.’


As a follow up, the children were asked to write down their thoughts about the question in their think books.

Think Books

Girls’ comments

‘If a girl likes football, then she can do it because she might be a tom boy. She doesn’t have to be friends with girls, she can be friends with boys because you might play football with boys and make friends with them as well as girls. Girls can also do rugby better because my friend plays rugby and cricket.’

‘I think it’s OK because I like doing boys things.’

‘Girls are allowed to play with boys because there is no difference. Only some boys like football and some girls like gymnastics.’

‘You are free to do whatever you want.’

‘I think girls are allowed to wear boys’ clothes because I’m a girl and I wear boys’ clothes.’

‘I think that girls can play football. Girls can climb trees. Girls can play with boys.’

Boys’ comments

‘It’s OK because I have played Barbie and my sister has played Jurassic Park when I was little.’

‘Some girls like playing girl stuff but they might have a best friend who is a boy.’

‘It’s OK for girls to do boys things because everyone can live their own life.’

‘I think there are no boys’ things or girls’ things because I am a boy and I like gymnastics and I have friends who are girls and they like rugby and tennis.’

‘I think girls and boys have the right to do anything they want. They have a decision and they can do gymnastics if they want to. They have the option to do whatever they like. Girls can play boys’ stuff and boys can play girls’ stuff.’

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Teacher Blog: Carol

Debate Club


  • Skill up – reasoning, communication, assertiveness, getting your point across
  • Become more articulate (talking clearly right?)
  • Blow you mind on current issues of your choosing
  • Hear ideas and views different to your own
  • Certification and membership – great for your future CV

Week 1 (3 males, 14 females)

The students were welcomed and thanked for coming. We discussed the badges, certificates and they were told that this was a commitment for 6 weeks.

The students were asked the following questions for a baseline:

  1. Are you male/female?                                                                F / M
  2. Do you have any good friends of the opposite sex?             Y / N

If NO – What would make you choose not to make a friend with    the opposite sex?

3. How do you rate your communication skills out of 10?

4. Rate your confidence to speak in front of a group of people out of 10

We discussed the basic structure of the club: there will be 2 sides for some topics, you can change your position, there will be whole group discussion for less polar topics. We developed some ground rules: 1 person speaks at a time, addressing the whole group. The students will have the opportunity to chair after week 3.

We chose some more topic ideas and voted for today’s topic: ‘Committing suicide is a selfish act.’ 20 mins 2 sides (4 in favour 13 against)

Summary of debate: possible reasons for suicide, how to get/give help, responsibility for own state of mind, euthanasia, effect on family and friends, depression, self-harm, personal choice, autonomy

We agreed next week’s topic – Do we need feminism?


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Teacher Blog: Abbey

Gender and Careers

The main thing I found from the questionnaire was that pupils in my school had a very gendered understanding of job roles. Almost all pupils believed household roles, such as cleaning, cooking and childcare should be undertaken by women and that women should not work. There were some cases were pupils believed specific jobs, namely medicine and law enforcement, were unsuitable for women and some, such as teaching, were unsuitable for men. Despite this, most girls aspired to have a career. However, this seemed to be a belief held at the same time as the belief that they would need to undertake the roles described above, and that they would definitely have children. Often, the girls had more aspirational aims for work (in terms of traditional views of aspirational roles i.e. well paid and highly qualified). The primary career options for the boys were professional footballer, taxi driver or shop owner.

To address this I planned a number of sessions culminating in an equal opportunities job fair, at which women and men would represent roles not traditional for their gender. In the end, my time was so wholly consumed with the admin of the job fair that this became the sole focus.

The job fair, however, was a great success. The children were enthused and engaged and their understanding, particularly about police officers, was successfully challenged. Many children expressed the fact that their understanding had been altered and almost all children said that they would like to have one of the roles that they learned about.