Gender sensitization week was observed in Ekya School ITPL from 15th to 19th July 2019. The aim of the Gender Sensitization program was to help students (Grades 1-12) understand how amazing their body is, and emphasize that this body is a gift, like all wonderful things in this world that need to be attended to and looked after well. The simplest way to protect this body was to understand personal space. This personal space is flexible – meaning some people are allowed in (our safe adults – parents, doctors, teachers) and some must stay out.
There are some parts of the body that we need to be a “little more careful” with ie: mouth, chest and private parts. So how do we protect this body? By following the 3 rules – clothing rule, touching rule and talking rule. If a thief broke into our homes and stole our belongings – it’s not our fault as the thief broke the rule, if a person breaks the rules then THEY are at fault. The session concluded with reiterating that most adults are safe and if someone broke the 3 rules then one must shout “No” and go away from them. And, tell their safe adult about it.
Examples and role plays were used to keep the session interactive. It was amazing how children were aware of personal space – helping them talk about what is safe and unsafe helps them realize body autonomy. Questions like “is it okay if I don’t want to hug my relatives,” “is it okay to hug my cousins,” helped the students establish that they were the boss of their body. The session concluded by asking the students to draw the outline of their hands and mention names of 5 safe adults that they would talk to. The students performed a skit which emphasized the meaning and importance of consent and what happens when consent is not given.
All our children from Primary to Secondary, engaged in a discussion about the importance of consent by identifying the problem in the situation and suggested solutions themselves. They felt empowered and appreciated as they figured the solutions themselves. Children were taken through safety rules and guides and an interactive session made it a fruitful Gender Sensitization week. Students were also informed of 1098 – a contact number for the children’s helpline.