In the context of SEKEMs project “Empowering Women for a Balanced Society” a session about gender equality was developed by a group of teachers of the SEKEM School and was conducted for the first time with four classes in April.
The pupils started the session with a pantomime game acting different activities like maintenance in the house, upbringing of children or riding a bicycle. Afterwards they engaged in a group discussion about certain activities regarding the question if they should be done by women or by men. “I could see the enthusiasm in the eyes of the girls during the session”, says Tamer Badr, one of the teachers who guided the pupils. The effect of the annual Girls’ Day became visible: “Many girls insisted that they are able to repair things in the household as men do. The Girls’ Day obviously strengthened their belief in their potentials”, the SEKEM teacher observed.
Reflecting Gender Roles by Controversy Discussions
By the interactive setting of the session pupils started to reflect about gender roles. Although the teachers had to be neutral towards the pupils’ points of views, they inspired their thoughts via preparing a debate between them. Hence, students had to construct an opinion, which was totally the opposite of their own. “The thereby occurred controversy enhanced the critical thinking among the students”, Esraa Hegab, a young SEKEM teacher comments enthusiastically. She was surprised when one of the boys told her that he changed his mind after the debate. “He realized that it is wrong to leave the raising of children only to women but should rather be accomplished by both genders.”
After the session, all pupils returned to their true perspectives and discussed to which extent it had been changed. “We expressed our opinions freely and I still believe that I can do everything that boys do”, says Donia Aboul Naga, a pupil from class nine. “After the session we all played together a soccer game to proof that girls and boys have the capabilities”, she lively recounts.
Gender Equality at the Core of a Sustainable Society
Also the students of the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development (HU) had the chance to take part in an interactive session about gender equality. In the context of introducing students to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, the session was conducted for the second time as a part of the curriculum of the Sustainability Course.
At Heliopolis University these sessions build a part of the Core Program, which is obligatory to all students and shall foster their capacities for innovation and social responsibility by different cultural and societal activities. In April, 50 students attended the second Gender Equality Session and shared their opinions and conclusions in regards to a balanced society which is based on equality between women and men.
Part of the interactive approach of the session was a competition between the HU students. The young people had to solve a questionnaire containing knowledge about the gender topic and where rewarded by small gifts. “The students should thereby become more aware of gender discrimination problems, which women are facing in the Egyptian society, like unequal job opportunities for instance”, Mohamed Anwar, trainer from the Center of Excellence at HU tells.
As SEKEM stated in its Gender Strategy for a Balanced Society, gender equality shall be integrated to all parts of the initiative with the overall goal of a sustainable society. Therefore, sensitizing pupils of the SEKEM School as well as HU Students for the situation of women in their society and motivating them to reflect and discuss about gender roles, is an integral part of education in SEKEM and the HU.
Noha Hussein/Anna Kölling
Pictures: © Anna Kölling