India ranks abysmally low on the gender inequality index (UNDP, 2017) due to major disparities in secondary education, employment, health, and safety for women and girls. A dominant root cause of this disparity is the primary perception of girls and women being limited to mothers-in-waiting, brides-to-be, and caretakers reiterated through socially accepted gender norms, molds and stereotypes. Schools serve as an important inflection point wherein these stereotypes can be challenged and a gender-equitable understanding can be cultivated among adolescents – the future leaders.
At its core, Girl Rising India (GR) leverages media tools to inspire adolescents both boys and girls to realize their full potential in a future devoid of gender-based discrimination. To build their agencies, GR developed and implemented a 24-week gender-sensitization curriculum; ‘School’s Campaign’ in 267 schools in 6 states in the country in the year 2017. The program in its initial phase reached over 45,000 adolescent boys and girls. The genesis of the curriculum was based on the findings and insights from GR’s on-the-ground efforts which sought to inspire girls to dream big for themselves along with the importance of sensitizing teachers, and boys and men. This robust curriculum consists of a teacher’s guide, films and storybooks; all of which encourage adolescents to spot and stop the manifestations of gender-based discrimination.
George Washington University, the campaign’s Monitoring and Evaluation partner conducted a mixed-methods pilot evaluation of the curriculum which included sub-sample of 1691 students from 26 schools in 3 states. Findings from this evaluation attested to the efficacy of this curriculum influencing mindsets as, 91% participants agreed that the GR program shaped up a more positive gender equitable attitude with noted change in perception towards domestic violence and prevalent stereotypes. Additionally, 95% of the participants felt that the GR program built their confidence and helped them think about their future goals.
This evaluation, thus, provides concrete results on the effectiveness of a gender-sensitization curriculum using media tools to empower young adolescents to counter gender-based discrimination and build a gender-equitable future.