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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Gender Respect – Youth Effect: Friday 4th March 2016

Our national conference ‘Gender Respect – Youth Effect’ was a great opportunity to network with liked minded, passionate people who work with young people to give them a voice and help them to understand their right to respect, regardless of gender. The wealth of experience and the variety of professionals present enabled thought-provoking and stimulating discussions.

The day commenced with the inspirational and passionate feminist writer, Laura Bates. She is author of ‘Everyday Sexism’ and founder of ‘the everyday sexism project.’ The project promotes gender equality and is a place for people to record stories of sexism that occur on a daily basis. Laura spoke about how people can be complacent, and just accept that this is the way things are. She goes into schools and delivers talks to encourage people to speak out when they have been treated unfairly. Laura’s talk was shocking at times and contained statistics that were depressing, but she ended on a positive note, talking about how things are changing and people are feeling more able to speak out against inequality.

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Feedback from participants was very positive. Project teacher Stephen said ‘I was pleased to part of the day that could potentially change the lives of so many that face inequality. Similar to Laura I would like people to challenge inappropriate actions and comments that are so offensive and hurtful to other people. It needs to start with the young and it was good to see a workshop on Early Years Education. While disappointed that very few men attended the morning session, it was pleasing to hear the message that men are important to addressing change and that they should see themselves as people who can reach out to other men who are responsible for unacceptable behaviour.’

The day continued with an overview of the Gender Respect project and the scoping study, followed by a choice of 4 workshops:

  1.   Sexual Harassment and Masculinities – Interactive & practical ideas – how to facilitate discussions about these issues, encourage empathy, and enable safe, appropriate interventions.
  2. Challenging gender stereotypes – Practical ideas for lessons which develop critical and creative thinking and enable primary-aged pupils to make real choices in areas such as sport and careers.
  3.  ‘Doing Gender’ – How young children develop ‘masculinities’ and ‘femininities’ and how we can provide an EYFS environment that promotes gender equality. This workshop will give participants an opportunity to discuss the theory around how children develop gender identities and reflect on practical approaches across the EYFS curriculum.
  4. Period Positive Schools – A fun, informative and interactive workshop sharing results results and resources from Chella’s research on how to include all ages and genders in menstruation education.

These workshops were well received by all and involved lots of thought-provoking discussions.

In the afternoon, Jo Sharpen, children and Young People’s Project Coordinator spoke about the Chilypep project ‘Against Violence and Abuse (AVA).’ This project works with young people who have been affected by domestic abuse. It was interesting to hear about how professionals can work with children and young people through an empowerment and participation model to shape services and provision. It was inspirational to hear from some of the young people involved in the project. Project teacher Stephen said ‘It was good to hear how the project in the afternoon had empowered so many once victims to be strong leaders of change.’

Participants chose from 3 workshops for the afternoon:

  1. Where do we go from here? – An opportunity to explore the YWAVE research findings and develop ideas and pledges from services/professionals/communities. A discussion around the legacy of the AVA project in Sheffield.
  2.  In My Shoes –  Interactive session exploring young people’s experiences and perspectives when engaging with multiple services and professionals in relation to domestic abuse.
  3. Participation and Empowerment – A look at models for working with young people. Opportunity to critically think about our practice with young people, examine the benefits and learn new strategies that can be incorporated into our work.

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The day was a great opportunity for networking, encouraging one another and learning about the work of different organisations. Project teacher Stephen said ‘I would like the day to be seen as a growing platform of change across society and especially education. We need men and women to work together to address inequalities on all genders. We need to measure the success e.g. by more men working in early education, nursing, caring professions, politics and other STEM professions. We also need to measure a significant difference in the number of violent and abusive crimes against people within our communities.’

How did people describe the conference?

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Gender Respect Pupil Conference: Friday 19th February

We were delighted to welcome 2 primary and 2 secondary schools to our Gender Respect Pupil Conference. The day started with introductions and some drama games. The first involved walking around the room ignoring one another, showing no respect to anyone. Gradually, the pupils were encouraged to show more and more respect to one another, ending in high fives and friendly hellos. The other game they enjoyed was acting out different careers, sports and household chores. One person stood in the centre e.g. doing the ironing, and someone asked them what they were doing, They responded by choosing a different action e.g. I’m washing the car. The pupils were very engaged in this activity and were especially keen on greyhound racing!

After the warm up, we split into primary and secondary workshops. Both workshops looked at these questions:

What is gender equality?

What can we do in our schools?

We came back together at the end of the day to share our thoughts and ideas. We were overwhelmed by the passion and enthusiasm these young people had and we’re really looking forward to hearing about how their projects are going.

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Gender Respect Pupil Conference: Secondary Workshop

In the secondary workshop pupils divided into two groups and drew life-size outlines of a male and a female. To begin with, they were asked to focus on the appearance of a ‘typical’ boy or girl, with clothes and accessories. After being asked to think about what a girl or boy might say, the ‘typical’ gender jobs and what a ‘typical’ boy or girl might think, the pupils began to think deeply about how these stereotypes might affect the way someone views themselves.

To enable them to think about the effects of stereotypes more specifically, they were asked to fill in a three-way table, thinking about how stereotypes affect a persons sense of self, a persons relationships and job prospects. A theme that was prominent in both group discussions was the idea of someone not being able to be who they truly are due to pressures from society;

‘They have to conform to society.’

‘Comparing yourself to friends.‘

‘You are always under pressure to maintain an appearance.’

‘Feel like they are putting on an act.’

‘Acting cocky to get noticed.’

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They were then showed a video called ‘The Man Box’, which included quite a disturbing story, to which all the children watched in a very mature and respectful way. The children were asked to write down what the video made them think and feel, which included words such as disgusted, shocked, frustrated and angry.

From all the things that had been discussed throughout the day, the pupils were asked to reflect on gender respect problems within their schools and how to tackle them. One group in particular wanted sexism to be treated equally to racism within schools and the rest of society.

The children impressed me with their enthusiasm and passion for gender respect, as well as treating sensitive issues with maturity and regard. It was clear that this was an issue they really cared about and want to help tackle. The students said that they really enjoyed meeting other schools and learning from one another.

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Gender Respect Pupil Conference: Primary Workshop

In the primary workshop, the pupils were shown a series of images and phrases showing stereotypical and non-stereotypical images of jobs, emotions and sports. They were asked to choose one that they felt interested in. We had some great discussions about women in the army, boys dancing, men and women playing football and boys crying. The phrase ‘You throw like a girl!’ proved to be an interesting one too, with one boy pointing out that this was a compliment as girls throw very well!

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We then did a continuum line with ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’ for the following statements:

‘Boys are embarrassed to do dance.’

‘Boys are all good at DIY.’

 

There was an interesting gender split with the dance, with the boys saying that they would not be embarrassed to do dance. The general feeling about DIY was that some boys are good at DIY but some certainly are not!

 

Next we thought about what was good about being a boy/girl/either. Here are some of their thoughts:

Girls: dance, being smart, people don’t judge you when you cry, you can wear trousers and skirts.

Boys: Straightforward, self-confident, being smart, dance, nerd, exercise, maths.

Either: long and short hair, ability to do sport, sensible, make up.

 

We discussed the pressures and difficulties of being a boy/girl and wrote them on post it notes around an outline of a body. These included;

 

‘Boys get teased for dancing.’

‘It’s harder for girls to do football because they’re not as good as boys.’

‘Girls should get the right amount of money for doing the same job.’

‘Some boys think that they’re superior to everyone else.’

‘Boys find it hard to cry in front of other people.’

‘In other countries, boys go to school and girls have to stay at home and work.’

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They then ranked these pressures from most to least important, using a diamond 9 shape.

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Using these ideas, the pupils worked with their schools to create an action plan of something that they felt needed addressing in school. 2 groups wished to create a play to act out in assembly, looking at respect for one another and challenging teasing. The 3rd group wished to organise a dance competition to encourage more boys to have a go at dance. We look forward to hearing about the success of their ideas.

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Comments from the teachers:

‘The day was a great opportunity for children to meet others from different schools and outside the authority of Sheffield. They didn’t know each other and yet soon started to share their ideas. The performances/ presentations were meaningful and pupil led. Our school council members have also chosen to be ambassadors and wish to champion respect for the school. They want to address attitudes they see towards female dinner staff from children and also encourage other pupils to challenge controlling behaviour when a child is told by another child they can’t join in because of gender, race or age. They want to start with an assembly and posters and will meet weekly. It was interesting that they choose an area in which staff at school have previously discussed but haven’t had an opportunity to raise with the children. I feel that they can have a real impact with this work.’

Stephen

 

‘I found the day really exciting as the children were so interested and had such good ideas. It gave me lots of hope for good things happening in the next generation and I can’t wait to hear what happens in the schools.’

Abbey


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CRESST Peer Mediators’ Conference

Kathryn and Heather ran a Gender Respect workshop at the CRESST conference for peer mediators on 7th January, 2016. We ran the workshop 3 times with 3 different groups of children in Y5 and Y6 from 10 schools in South Yorkshire.

Our aims were:

  • Explore what it’s like to be a boy or a girl in South Yorkshire
  • Identify attitudes we have about boys and girls
  • Think as peer mediators how we can make it fairer.

We used the same images of sports, careers and emotions that we had used in the scoping study as stimulus for discussions. We used continuum lines with agree and disagree about a view or attitude that emerged to generate further thought and discussion.

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These are some of the attitudes that we drew out from the lively discussions:

Sports:

  • Many girls want to play football at play time but don’t because boys are too rough.
  • When we asked boys ‘Is this true?’ some replied ‘Yes, because we’re more competitive than girls.’
  • Football is a boys’ sport. Boys are tough and can be aggressive.
  • Girls are not as good at sport.
  • Girls can be stronger than boys and they can play football as well as boys.
  • Some boys like dancing and are good at it.
  • Boys can be embarrassed to be friends with a girl.
  • Some schools had girls only football at play time. Other girls said they did not want this. They wanted to play with boys but for boys not to be so rough and obey the rules.

Careers:

Strong views were expressed about equality, that men and women should be able to do every job.

  • Boys and girls can do every job.
  • It’s good to see a woman pilot and men looking after children.
  • Usually women do childcare. They have carried the baby so they are more in touch. However, men can look after children too.
  • Comparisons with the past. Men used to go out to work and women stayed at home. Now more women go out to work.

Emotions:

  • You sometimes see women being angry, but they’ve got good reasons to be angry. They do not get equal pay and are often treated unfairly and not with respect.
  • It’s unusual to see men cry but they all agreed that it’s acceptable for them to cry.
  • Boys and men act really tough. If they cry, they think they’ll look weak.

We asked the children: ‘If you had super magical powers and had one wish, to make things fairer and kinder between men and women, girls and boys what would that be?’

  •  Girls and boys can play together
  • Don’t judge people by if they’re black or white
  • Girls are the same as boys and everyone is treated fairly
  • Girls and boys are in the same team in any sport
  • Make girls confident to do sports
  • Make more jobs accessible to different genders
  • Freedom of choice
  • Change attitudes
  • To make sure men and women get treated equally and have the same rights
  • Boys and girls shouldn’t judge each other by what they look like
  • Everyone having the same opportunities
  • That men and women should share their feelings
  • To make every man, woman and child get along so everyone should stop bombing and attacking people.
  • For people to aim for their dreams

Finally, we asked them ‘As a peer mediator, what could you do to make it fairer?’

  • Talk to the school in an assembly, about genders getting along with being friends and making sure you are able to do what you want to do. E.g. being able to play football if you are a girl.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover
  • To make sure you’re not taking sides
  • Don’t judge people by their gender
  • Giving people the opportunity to play
  • Make girls try to play sport and not make boys make fun of them
  • Play together fairly. Treat people respectfully. Practise together.
  • Collaborate more
  • Listen to other people’s opinion
  • Encourage people to believe in themselves and do what they want with their life
  • Use encouragement to build their confidence
  • Make a rota (that’s clear) for girl’s football on a certain day, same with boys, ‘We have a rota but whenever I look at the football pitch and there are always boys, the same boys.’

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Our reflections

We really enjoyed the workshops and felt very encouraged by the opinions of the young people. We realised we had the benefit of being with a selected group of hand-picked 10 and 11 year olds, trained in listening and mediation. The children were forthcoming in their views and able to discuss their differences. They had strongly held views about the importance of equality – between men and women, boys and girls, black and white. This held true for occupations, emotions and relationships. We were very interested to hear that some girls and boys did not like the banter about ‘Girls are best. No! Boys are best.’ which they said was very prevalent in their schools. ‘Because we are all human beings. We want to be treated like human beings.’ However, in the everyday experience of playground football, girls expressed their reality of exclusion. This held true across all 10 schools represented. It may be boys had not heard this before and discussions like this could make a difference, especially as peer mediators are mostly engaged because of conflicts at play times. However, some boys’ view that they were more competitive than girls seemed insightful, and may reflect an underlying culture.

Thoughts for the future of the Gender Respect project: We were encouraged that some children spontaneously suggested holding an assembly on gender equality. We hope their teachers will be able to support them in this. This idea may be developed at the young people’s conference later this month. All the children said they would love to come to a Gender Respect student conference if there was one in the future.

 

 


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Pinned post: About the Gender Respect Education Project

In February 2016 we brought together the young people from the project schools for a day of awareness raising and developing actions and sharing them. Here’s the film:Screen shot 2016-03-15 at 17.42.32

We followed this up with a second pupil conference in June 2016 to give the young people a chance to share actions they had taken and to learn some more about related topics. Here’s the film:

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DECSY’s Gender Respect Education Project grew out of One Billion Rising (onebillionrising.org) which inspired women and girls, and men who love them, to come out on the streets of more than 50 different cities across the globe on 14th February 2013. They called for the end of violence to women and girls in a life affirming demonstration of dance, banners and testimonies. The internet and social media were particularly relevant in this mobilisation and also in capturing the connecting power of seeing women in Kabul, Delhi, Manila and Sheffield out on the streets doing the same dance. One Billion Rising stimulated a debate at Westminster calling for much more attention to relationship education in schools. One Billion Rising is part of V-Day, a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls (www.vday.org). The three year (2013-2016) Gender Respect Education Project aims to help children and young people to understand, question and challenge gender inequality and violence in a local-global context. We are bringing together teachers of pupils aged 4-14 along with creative practitioners and young people to develop engaging, participatory and creative curriculum activities and materials which  will be disseminated widely through CPD / INSET.

A paper on the background theory for the project can be found here.  For a powerpoint introduction to the project click here.  A scoping study was carried out as part of the project.  The full report and a summary is now available.