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News & Insights 8 March 2022

International Women’s Day –  How do Action Tutoring volunteers promote gender equality in our programmes?

Celebrating International Women’s Day means raising awareness on gender equality and recognising it as the foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. [1]https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/gender-equality/

Initiatives to promote gender equality in and through schools are critical in raising a generation of girls and boys who understand equality, respect and fairness in society. Education plays an important role in transforming social structures and promoting economic and cultural progress.

This day is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the significance of female empowerment. We can empower young girls to be strong and confident, and teach boys to recognise, celebrate, and embrace that empowerment.

At Action Tutoring we believe that gender equality is an essential component of quality education. Our tutors have enormous potential to address gender inequality issues and end the preservation of toxic behaviours.

How exactly do our tutors encourage a healthy, equal and sustainable future for our pupils?

Our educational resources are free from gender stereotypes

The curriculum is a powerful tool for social change, since it can shape beliefs and values at an early age. Our workbooks and education resources are used as a tool to transfer knowledge in an effective and efficient manner. 

Our team has worked hard to ensure that the learning material volunteer tutors use nurture the minds of young people we support, without stereotypes and gender biases. 

Our tutors do not refer to stereotypical characteristics 

Children are not born understanding what it means to be a ‘boy’ or a ‘girl’. This means that their family, school and community impose gender stereotypes and social expectations on them from an early age. 

Our optional “Bright Ideas” training sessions provide volunteer tutors with materials that prepare them to better handle conversations regarding gender or social expectations. Stereotyping and prejudice can affect pupils’ view of themselves, including what subjects a pupil thinks they are ‘naturally good at’ or ‘naturally bad at’. For example, historically, there has been a widespread belief that ‘male brains’ and ‘female brains’ are different and that men and women therefore have naturally different skill sets and aptitudes. 

With this in mind, we need to be incredibly careful when we communicate with young people in order to avoid stereotyping, such as ‘women stay at home to take care of their family’ and ‘men don’t cry’. Our volunteer tutors use educational activities in such a way that encourage critical thinking and teamwork. 

In particular, one session available for our volunteers includes Managing conversations about prejudice, stereotypes and inequality. It explores how prejudice, bias and stereotypes can impact pupils, and provides strategies to try if challenging conversations around these topics arise. This way, we want our pupils to develop a growth mindset, where they see skills as things that can be learnt and developed over time using effort and resilience, rather than something innate that cannot be changed. Avoiding stereotyped ways of thinking and communicating is an important part of this.

As children grow into adults, it is critical that they feel supported in order to pursue their passions later in life and never allow gender stereotypes to limit their options.

Our female tutors serve as role models

We understand how critical strong female representation is for young girls. It encourages the confidence to have bigger goals and aspirations in life. With strong female role models to look up to, young girls are better equipped to end the cycle of inequality and use education as a tool that opens new doors for them. 

One of our pupils, Bella, is in Year 11 at King Ecgbert School in Sheffield and is tutored by our fantastic volunteer Sophie. She is receiving tuition in English and mentioned how much more confident she now feels in class. Bella thinks that tutoring is more personalised, and she’s not scared anymore to ask questions and engage with her tutor. What’s more significant is Bella’s wish for her future: ‘I’d like to be really successful and run my own business one day.’’ 

Young girls like Bella need to be supported and encouraged to pursue their dreams and become confident young women later in life, so that they can help others when the time comes. 

International Women’s Day is also an opportunity to recognise the incredible bravery, resilience and strength of ordinary women and men  who fight daily against toxic patriarchal norms and promote equality and fairness. 

Lastly, it’s a day to show our gratitude to our female volunteers who are amazing at what they do and have helped us make a difference in the lives of so many young people.

Let this day be a reminder that great change comes from the efforts of one person at a time.

Notes

Notes
1 https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/gender-equality/
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