Earlier this week, all of us GEE volunteers had to do our Life Skills presentations at Model School. Leslie and I did our presentation on Gender Roles and their correlation to your sex (male/female) and how those gender roles vary by community/culture/society. We introduced ourselves and did a little ice-breaker, asking them to give us differences between the Burkinabè and Americans. Then we moved on to our activity...on the board, you divide it into three parts: masculin (male) on one side and féminin (female) on the other side with a space in the middle.
The part of the Life Skills activity where the students run to the board and put in their initial thought of a gender role they receive on a piece of paper.
Each student received a gender role or type of job (cleaning the house, taking care of the kids, power, beauty, doctor, tailor, etc.) that was face down. Once we said go, they had to flip over their gender role card, run to the board immediately and place the gender role under the column they felt best fit their gender role. By the end of the activity, you have a board filled with various gender roles in different categories and all the students were having some crazy debating.
You do the activity a second time but the instructions are a little different...you give each student a gender role again, face-up and ask them to think before going up to the board. They have to ask themselves: "can a man, a woman or both physically do the gender role written on my card?"
The second time around was really interesting because everyone placed all of the gender roles in the middle category, meaning they applied to both male & female. On the féminin side was "pregnancy" and on the masculin side was "constructing/building a house." This is where it almost turned into a mini-riot because some students were arguing that women can build houses; it's just that here in BF, women normally do not while others argued that women don't have the power to physically build houses, nor have the money to fund them.
The whole point of this was to emphasize that gender roles are dictated by what the culture/society/community says...an example being a Burkinabè girl and an American girl. While they both share the same sex, their gender roles differ due to where they grew up. Such a powerful and interactive game that's getting me more excited for some of the things I want to do while at site…and got me thinking about future careers after the Peace Corps (teaching /education policy, anyone ?) !
A pretty blurry picture of me teaching Life Skills. So much fun but definitely a lot of work! I have even more respect (if that's ever possible) for teachers in the U.S. and abroad.