Gender equality starts in the early years
Girls are 1.5 times more likely than boys to be excluded from school, damaging their chances to succeed later in life.
ISSA member organization, VVOB – education for development has partnered with Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) to change this statistic. Together, they aim to encourage early childhood teachers in Rwanda, South Africa and Zambia to engage all young learners in their school environment.
A toolkit, which is planned for release in 2018, will encourage teachers to provide a gender-balanced environment in which young learners are able to reach their full potential. Conscious development of gender equality in classrooms challenges gender stereotypes. The toolkit from VVOB and FAWE will be used in initial teacher education as well as in the professional development settings.
Gender equality is essential for Sustainable Development Goal 4, which focuses on quality and inclusive education. Around the globe, many young girls encounter barriers to education. VVOB and FAWE support governments to make schools gender responsive.
Gender responsive education involves taking steps to ensure girls are given an equal chance to achieve the same learning outcomes as boys. This can also help young girls feel safer and better supported in their school environments, making learning more enjoyable and drop outs less likely as young girls grow.
The early years are a particularly crucial time to create an environment free from gender stereotypes. Quality early education and care can help young girls grow into empowered women. Christin Ho from RoSa vzw, a Flemish gender expertise center, shared insights at a two-day workshop on the toolkit in Lusaka:
“Children spend most of their time at school. From a very young age they learn to cope with insecurities, emotions, difficulties and others. We assume girls and boys enjoy equal opportunities, but in practice we see that our society is dominated by gender stereotypes that determine how kids ‘should’ behave at school. Frequently heard statements such as ‘girls like pink’, ‘boys don’t cry’, ‘girls play with dolls, boys with cars’ push young children in a certain direction. We need to give children every opportunity to discover their own talents and to shape their personality how they wish, to have an open mind, and to learn how to deal with diversity, without being constantly reminded about their sex.”
Article written in collaboration with Katelin Raw of VVOB-education for development.