Gender attitudes and norms, such as those around the roles and responsibilities of women and men, are learned at a young age. Through the Gender Equity Movement in Schools (GEMS) program, ICRW has been exploring the potential for school-based curriculums to influence the formation of more gender-equitable norms among adolescents.
In partnership with the Committee of Resource Organizations for Literacy (CORO) and the Tata Institute for Social Sciences (TISS), ICRW has developed and implemented a curriculum to engage young girls and boys, age 12-14 years, to discuss and critically reflect on the issues related to inequitable gender norms and violence. GEMS project was implemented in public schools in Goa, Kota and Mumbai using different approaches. In Goa and Kota, it was layered with ongoing school curriculum, while in Mumbai, it was implemented as independent pilot project in 45 schools. Using extracurricular activities, role-playing and games, GEMS began in the sixth grade and works for two years with boys and girls ages 12-14 in public schools.
The pilot phase in Mumbai demonstrated the potential of GEMS to engage young adolescents on issues of gender and violence and bring attitudinal change to support equitable norms. The outcome variables that demonstrate the greatest change are clustered around appropriate roles for women and men and girls and boys. Other key attitudinal and behavioral changes are increased support for a higher age at marriage for girls, greater male involvement in household work, increased opposition to gender discrimination, and improved reactions to violence.
Following the success of the pilot phase in Mumbai, the Maharashtra state government has integrated key elements of GEMS in the school gender program for all of its nearly 25,000 public schools. ICRW, CORO and TISS are supporting the state in designing curriculum and training master trainers. In addition, we are supporting implementation and documentation of the scale-up phase in Mumbai.
GEMS has also found relevance in Vietnam. PyD is implementing GEMS in 20 schools in DaNang Province in collaboration with the government of Vietnam and technical support from ICRW.