Unlearning Gender Roles
Immaculee, a teacher at Nyacyonga Primary School—who you may remember from our Gala Film, Empowering Girls—shared with us how Wellspring’s Gender-Responsive Classrooms training has changed her mindset on gender roles and how the impact has rippled into her home, classroom, and families of her students. She shared her testimony with us;
Changed Hearts at Home
“Wellspring’s gender training has changed a lot of things in me personally, for my family, and for the children I teach. I developed self-confidence and began boosting the confidence of my children. Before, I thought that there are jobs that girls can’t do and others that boys can’t do. For example, I thought being a mechanic was a man’s job. I discouraged my girls from learning certain subjects thought to be for boys, but today, I encourage them to follow them!
When I learned about gender, I started to talk about gender roles and responsibilities with my husband and my children. This changed their mindset, and they started to do household activities that they were not used to doing before. Today, when I get home from work and my children from school, we find food already cooked by my husband! He even bathes our youngest child, washes his clothes, and does the dishes. He never did that before! My eldest son also does some household chores when he gets home from his job. They never did this before I had taught them about gender roles and responsibilities. Today, there is more love and unity in my household due to the conversations I have had with my husband and my children, after being through Wellspring training.
Changed Hearts at School
On the side of the children I teach, I ask students if their dads do household activities like cooking, washing the dishes, and bathing children, and if their moms fetch water and lift heavy things. Some children immediately respond that they do! This shows that children take home what we teach them about gender roles and are changing their parents’ mindsets.
In addition, when we started the school year, it was not easy to have girls seated with boys. They kept changing places to sit with other girls, and I had to rearrange the seating plan whenever we entered classes. But today, girls know that they have to sit with boys. They mix up when they are lining up in front of the class before entering, and they talk to each other when I tell them to discuss. I also helped children to switch gender roles even through the activities I give to them. Whenever I ask children to clean the class, girls quickly say that they will fetch water, while before, I used to ask boys to do it, saying that they have more power to do heavy work. Whenever I tell children to sweep the class, I see boys taking brooms to sweep the class and work with girls to mop and lift chairs, while before, I used to tell girls to be the ones sweeping and boys to fetch water and lift desks.’’
Changed Hearts in the Community
Through her learnings from Wellspring’s gender training, Immaculee is breaking gender stereotypes that have put girls and boys in boxes and is providing students with opportunities to learn with and from each other. As children unlearn and re-learn, they are uplifted and empowered to do anything, regardless of their gender! Because of her leadership in the classrooms, Immaculee is even seeing families transform as children bring home their learning and catalyze change at home!
As teacher Immaculee leads the charge of gender equity, reframes gender roles, and is a role model for both boys and girls in her school, we’re sure that students—especially girls—will be transformed by the empowerment and confidence she’s instilling in them. We can’t wait to see the impact these students will have as they carry the torch further in their communities and families in the years to come!