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  • Writer's pictureRaghu Ramachandran

Storytelling with Zephaniah Free Education

Updated: May 2, 2018

By Kirthi Jayakumar

(Photo Courtesy: Kirthi Jayakumar and Sister Zeph)

We had a wonderful morning with the lovely girls and boys at Zephaniah Academy, where we worked together to understand gender stereotypes, and towards breaking them. Sharda began the session with a powerful story- The Princess saves the day written by Nanditha Ravindar and then steered the group towards internalizing the message, while breaking their own personal beliefs that culminate in stereotypical notions around gender.

By the end of the session, he kids came into owning the vision of being gender equal – even as they affirmed truths such as “We are not less than boys,” “We should not depend on anyone,” “We should help ourselves,” “Men shouldn’t dominate us,” “We should be brave.” The students shared their ambitions and aspirations with us, as well: joining the army, becoming a commando, establishing and running a school, becoming an airhostess, lawyer, painter, and dancer.

Through activities around breaking gender stereotypes, some of the children talked about how family and society would hold them back, put an end to their education in favour of marriage. Kirthi addressed the need to speak out and constantly question the status quo. In the process, we discussed how socialisation often result in internalising stereotypes, which can be challenged only when we ask questions and not blindly follow norms/ traditions that we are expected to follow. 

She reinforced on how it is important for each of us to be determined and believe in ourselves as we work towards overcoming the roadblocks set forth by our family, community or society. Thus through the workshop we talked about ways to address the challenges and roadblocks and created room to facilitate a system of paying forward by educating their families and those around them.

This workshop was hosted together with our training partner- The Red Elephant Foundation.

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