Starting today, secondary school teachers may use a guide for teaching and integrating gender equality during their classes. It includes theoretical foundations and concrete suggestions for activities in order to talk about gender equality in the classroom, from an inclusive and intersectional perspective.
The textbook was created by a team of experts and researchers made up of Alexandra Columban, Irina Ilisei, Dana Marțiş, Laura Grünberg, Georgiana Lincan and Andreea Voina, within the EGALIS project: gender equality through social change and education.
Before publication, the textbook was tested by specialists and practitioners in pre-university education to guarantee that it meets the needs of teachers and students, i.e. that its theoretical aspects are relevant, clearly presented, but also that the proposed activities can be easily implemented in class activities.
"Gender inequality often appears in the school environment and affect all students, not just the vulnerable ones, often the consequences are profound, and teachers must be able to manage such situations", emphasized Ligia Murăsan, teacher of Romanian language and literature in the town of Almașu, Sălaj county, one of the teaching staff consulted during the development of the material. "Unfortunately, there is still a perception in the classroom that girls are not as well-suited as boys for various activities that involve the use of reason and intelligence, rather they are assigned household chores. These misconceptions are shared by many students, as a result of insufficient information on gender equality. It is necessary for teachers to receive gender equality training, regardless of the subject they teach," she added.
The textbook has five chapters and includes theoretical aspects of gender stereotypes and prejudices, information on different forms of discrimination against girls and women, including case law examples from ECtHR and CNCD, and gender equality topics. The section focusing on the concept of intersectionality was included to highlight how multiple dimensions of a person's identity (ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, gender, age, etc.) can intersect and create additional vulnerabilities.
It also includes an analysis of the secondary and high school curricula that is appropriate for the introduction of gender equality elements, namely: "Counseling and personal development", "Romanian language and literature", "Hungarian language and literature", "Romani language and literature", "History", "Social Education", "Logic", "Psychology", "Economy" and "Philosophy" and numerous practical suggestions of topics and activities for the above subjects, but also for foreign languages in general. Last but not least, all teachers, regardless of their specialization, can use the manual in counseling and personal development classes, respectively counseling and guidance.
The last section of the guide, more practical, contains appendices, worksheets and exercises, with illustrations, graphics, video materials and links to additional resources. For example, (self-)evaluation questionnaires for teachers, exercises on stereotypes and prejudice, discrimination and intersectionality and numerous project ideas on gender equality.
Why the need to teach teachers
Currently, teachers who want to address gender equality in the classroom rely mainly on their own intuitions and knowledge, with no formal support: school curricula, textbooks and teaching materials contain very few gender-sensitive elements and often overlook relevant topics.
Also, the offer of training courses on this subject is extremely limited: most of the training sessions organized by Casele Corpurilor Didactice (CCDs didactic institution) and other accredited suppliers barely mention gender equality at all.
Therefore, often from the very first years of school, different stereotypes about girls and boys are perpetuated, which, over time, can influence both school performance in various fields, as well as professional and university studies choices, in the sense of discouraging girls from entering fields considered more the prerogative of boys (science, computer science, technical fields) and discouraging boys from pursuing humanities fields.
What is the relevance of addressing gender equality in formal education
Education, from an early age, plays a key role in cultivating respect for diversity, democratic values and non-discrimination. In the current context of illiberal and conservative political and social trends, of anti-gender movements, of attacks against gender studies, pejoratively labeled as "gender ideology", it is all the more important that schools become promoters of gender equality, equal chances and non-discrimination.
Teachers have the power to give students confidence and encourage them to participate equally and fairly in all areas of social, political, professional and domestic life. At the same time, schools have an essential role in fighting patriarchal gender roles, gender-based violence and discrimination, acting as the main environment for passing the principles of gender equality among future generations.
The project "EGALIS: Gender equality through social change and education" is developed by the Partnership for Equality Center, in partnership with the Front Association, AnA - the Scientific Society for Feminist Analysis, ACTEDO - the Action Center for Equality and Rights Association Man, PLURAL Association and SEX vs The STORK Association, with financial support from Active Citizens Fund Romania, programme funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants Grants 2014 -2021.
The aim of the project is to generate changes in the perception of young people and teachers and to influence decision-makers in order to develop institutional policies on gender equality, through education and awareness aimed at young people and teachers, as well as through watchdog actions and advocacy .
The Active Citizens Fund Romania program is financed by the EEA Grants 2014-2021. The overall objective of the Grants is to reduce economic and social disparities and strengthen bilateral relations between the 15 beneficiary states and the donor states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway). The program is administered by the consortium composed of Fundația pentru Dezvoltarea Societății Civile, Fundația pentru Parteneriat, Centrul de Resurse pentru Comunitățile de Romi, Fundația PACT and Frivillighet Norge, which acts as a Fund Operator designated by the FMO – Financial Mechanism Office for EEA and Norway Grants. Active Citizens Fund Romania aims to strengthen civil society and active citizenship and increase the capacity of vulnerable groups. With a total allocation of EUR 46,000,000, the program aims to develop the long-term sustainability and capacity of the civil society sector, intensifying its role in promoting democratic participation, active citizenship and human rights while strengthening bilateral relations with its donor states Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. For more information about Active Citizens Fund in Romania, please visit www.activecitizensfund.ro. For more information about EEA and Norwegian Grants, visit www.eeagrants.ro.
Working together for an inclusive Europe!