DSG's gender and public policy programme examines impact of education in transforming gender norms among young adolescents
- United Arab Emirates: Saturday, December 15 - 2012 at 12:56
- PRESS RELEASE
Research on adolescent development finds that pre-teen and early teen years are especially important for the formation of norms and the adoption of behaviours that persist in adulthood, according to Soha Ellaithy, Director of Gulf Partnerships at Save the Children in Dubai.
Ellaithy's comments came during a presentation titled 'Gender and Educational Reform: Transforming Gender Norms among Young Adolescents for Lasting Social Change', at the Dubai School of Government's Gender and Public Policy Programme Seminar Series. The series, which began in 2007, has been providing researchers, scholars and practitioners with a platform to share their research findings and views on challenges facing women's leadership and empowerment in the GCC and the wider Arab region.
"We are particularly pleased to have Soha Ellaithy presenting on such a crucial and relatively understudied topic today─ it is the first time that our seminar series brings to the table a discussion on interventions at the childhood level," said Ghalia Gargani, Acting Director of the Gender and Public Policy Programme.
The seminar focused on how gender biases can be overcome and how shifts in gender norms can be made through specifically designed curriculum interventions that target very young adolescent girls and boys aged 10-14 years old. The seminar addressed these important questions through a presentation of a project titled CHOICES, which was developed by Save the Children in collaboration with Georgetown University's Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH).
CHOICES is a curriculum-based pilot programme of creative, participatory activities and innovative evaluation techniques that was implemented over a three-month period in Nepal and most recently in Egypt. The evaluation of the programme demonstrated that even relatively brief curriculum interventions can empower very young adolescents to challenge the gender norms of their society and make changes in their own lives in the direction of gender equity.
Boys who participated in the Nepal pilot showed a staggering drop in traditional gender role views. According to Ellaithy, "The perception of traditional gender roles altered dramatically among boys who participated in the CHOICES programme. For instance, prior to the session, 45% of the boys thought it was acceptable for a man to hit his wife while 60% believed that boys who helped with chores at home are perceived as weak. At the conclusion of the sessions, these numbers dropped to 10% and 20% respectively."
Ellaithy added, "The success of this pilot in Nepal has encouraged Save the Children to adapt the content and bring it to the Arab world. We began with Egypt, where a pilot project has been implemented in a rural area in the south. The results are expected to be available in January 2013."
Save the Children has worked in the Middle East since the 1930s and currently has partnerships with organizations across the GCC such as 'Dubai Cares', 'Salam Ya Seghar Fund' in Sharjah, the 'Bokra Project' in Sharjah and 'Reach Out to Asia' in Qatar.
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