The International Center for Research on Women stands with our staff, our community, with people everywhere seeking to transform the underlying systemic inequities that perpetuate the dehumanizing violence that manifested last week in the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.
Injustice – whether targeting people on the basis of their race, gender, class, religion, age, orientation, ability, origin – will persist as long as we do not act to disrupt it. As a people, we must disassemble the structures that fuel and sustain inequity and together build a solid foundation for social justice, equity and a new direction.
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Tamir Rice. Ahmaud Arbery. Trayvon Martin. We have witnessed crimes against Black people and communities of color over and over. These are crimes against humanity – stark and painful indicators of the injustice and racism that have existed in this country for centuries.
For those of us in the majority, we must recognize that we have to examine our own privilege and work to dismantle the long-standing social inequities that have maintained our position of power in this society. We must all stand up when we see others pushed down and rise up together with purpose.
We at ICRW stand in solidarity with the Black community. We will use our research and advocacy platform to interrogate injustice, drive evidence-informed solutions and collaborate with our partners near and far to create a better world.
This week, ICRW released new findings on the Gender Equity Movement in Schools (GEMS) program. Originally piloted in 45 schools in Mumbai, the program has been scaled up and implemented in more than 20,000 schools across that state of Maharashtra, and in Bangladesh and Hanoi. The GEMS program has also been implemented in 80 schools across two districts in Jharkhand, India.
ICRW’s most recent evaluation was designed to better understand the impact of the program on girls’ and boys’ views of gender equity and violence in Jharkhand.
GEMS builds off the idea that the role of schools in perpetuating gender stereotype is often unrecognized, but also that schools present an ideal social institution in which to begin to combat those stereotypes that underpin violent behavior and acceptance of violence. In the GEMS program, teachers are trained both to implement the program and in implementing the program, they begin to uncover their own biases.
The GEMS curriculum includes 24 sessions, 12 one year and 12 the next year. The first year’s sessions include the topics of gender, violence and bodily changes, and the second year’s session includes relationships, emotions, communication and conflict resolution. Sessions include a range of activities to keep kids engaged, including role-play, games and debates. The GEMS program also contains big group activities, like school plays and speeches during assembly, to engage students.
To evaluate the effectiveness of the program, ICRW interviewed more than 3,000 boys and girls from the 80 schools where GEMS was implemented. ICRW also conducted in-depth surveys with 60 students from intervention and comparison schools, and spoke to teachers and principals to better understand the impacts of the program.
ICRW evaluated students’ attitudes regarding gender and violence, interaction between boys and girls, communication with teachers, bystander intervention, and perpetration of violence. The evaluation found that the GEMS program led to the following:
Even in GEMS schools, however, there is room for improvement. Students note that while support for corporal punishment is down, it still happens and they often feel powerless to stop it. There was some documented resistance from teachers and parents and time, a precious resource, was sometimes an issue.
Article Author: Erin Kelly
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