In my work environment, I see gender stereotyping all the time. I see this in the way the children dress and the games they play. I see it in the roles they believe their parents are required or designed to do. I often get told that mothers do the cooking and cleaning, or look after the baby. I even get told that girls can’t have short hair or wear certain clothes.
It makes me feel disappointed that these beliefs are still around. Most recently I was informed by one young person that there are different superpowers for superheroes depending if they are a boy or a girl. I wanted to say to her: ‘Girls can be superwomen, saving men from burning buildings! And what about women as president or prime minister? I’ve seen a few of those already.’
Young people learn about gender through the lens of their mother and father and their surrounding community. Often the ‘female’ roles are not valued in the same way that ‘male’ roles are valued, and I believe, in part, this is why domestic violence is so prominent in the world.
Most recently I saw this documentary called ‘No More Boys And Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?’ It was completely eye-opening. By simply changing the children’s toys to be gender neutral and the games that they play to be neither boy or girls games, children’s lives were impacted in a very profound and positive way.
The boys became able to express their emotions better, and the girls’ self-esteem had improved considerably. The boys’ interaction with the girls was more balanced and the girls’ respect for themselves had improved a lot. So simple yet so powerful.
I couldn’t stop thinking ‘What would the world look like if we treated boys and girls equally?’ Is it that simple to create positive change? This is certainly something to think about.
If you’re interested in learning more, read this article.
Written by Marryanne Christodoulou
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