Innovating for Gender Equity
Despite the significant progress made in girls’ education globally, female students continue to experience persistent inequality that holds them back from realizing their full potential. That’s why as Educate! has scaled, we have also doubled down our commitment to ensure gender equity permeates every aspect of our program. In 2018, we worked to develop the most effective tools to understand and perpetuate Educate!’s outsized impact on girls by developing several key gender equity innovations and activities.
Supporting Female Leaders
In 2017, our program monitoring in Uganda highlighted a gender imbalance in top leadership positions within the Student Business Clubs (for example, male students were more typically President, with more female students taking leadership roles like VP or Secretary). In 2018, we tested strategies to achieve gender balance in leadership, like adjusting our Student Business Club Guide to include more language encouraging girls to take up higher leadership positions. Recognizing that girls in East Africa are often socialized to be soft-spoken and shy, we encouraged students to consider the many different characteristics of a good leader and to recognize – for example – that public speaking as a strict criteria for leadership may disadvantage female peers. Additionally, in Rwanda, we rolled out further gender equity trainings for Youth Leaders and integrated a focus on equitable club leadership into our Leadership Course lessons.
Gender Training for Kenyan Teachers
Building on the gender strategy that we rolled out in Uganda and Rwanda, Educate! launched a training for Head Teachers in Kenya to build frameworks for gender equity in the classroom. In 2018, we trained school administrators on how to use gender-responsive pedagogy in their classrooms, and administrators worked to brainstorm measures they could put in place to ensure a culture of gender sensitivity. Teachers were also taught to recognize their own biases in the classroom and to understand that they are instrumental in spearheading gender awareness by modeling gender sensitivity to their learners.
Teacher Behavior Change Research
We conducted an internal evaluation to explore teachers’ adoption of gender sensitive pedagogy and identify the barriers that hold them back. The study reviewed the implementation of Educate!’s gender strategy, launched in 2016, which rolled out gender trainings for 400 teachers and administrators in Uganda.
After 40 in-depth interviews with teachers and administrators, we found that the trainings successfully encouraged Associate Teachers to implement some gender-sensitive pedagogical practices, including: creating fair discipline practices, providing gender-sensitive guidance, promoting mixed gender groups, and encouraging girls to hold leadership positions at school. Additionally, almost all teachers surveyed understood the importance of gender sensitivity in the classroom.
The evaluation also helped us identify room for growth: While teachers and administrators understand the importance of gender equity, they wanted more concrete strategies to better integrate gender sensitive pedagogical practices into their classroom and school. We collected feedback on different options to help them develop their skills and create a gender-sensitive school environment.
Creating an Internal Team of Gender Champions
Designated the “Gender Champions,” in 2018 we created a new cross-departmental task force to ensure that gender equity remains a priority in all of the countries that Educate! works in, and to create and implement specific gender equity programming. The Gender Champions’ regular meetings act as an opportunity for challenges and learnings to be shared across countries and departments.