Gender Box - A Gender Introduction Workshop

Gender Box - A Gender Introduction Workshop

Working in a Gender Transformative Way requires self-reflection. Get started yourself with this interactive exercise. Explore how gender roles, sexism, and homophobia affect individuals and organisations in your environment. It is helpful to start by looking at your own life, values, and ideas about gender. This exercise will help you to do just that. It is best to do this together in a group. We recommend you form a team of 2 to 5 members. Preferably include people with different backgrounds and different roles in your project or organisation.

Aidsfonds' renewed Big Picture (2020) is out now! Access the full guide on how to develop a gender transformative approach in HIV programming, filled with approaches, exercises, case studies and loads more. Download guide

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Gender Box

A good way to look at your own values and norms is an exercise called the Gender Box. If you take one hour you can really set the stage; get your team on the same page; and explore how gender roles, sexism, and homophobia affect individuals and organisations. This is an interactive exercise for your group where it is important we are respectful and honest. 

Together you will reflect on traditional/common gender roles in your society by naming the stereotypes we associate with someone’s gender. It is important to contextualise this and to be specific, because gender roles may differ as they intersect with class, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, and so on.

Group of people working together

Now let’s start! Draw two big boxes on flipcharts or a white/blackboard. Make sure there is enough space around them to write. Together with your group, you start to fill each box with stereotypes and words. While some words may be offensive to some people, it is good to still mention them if you do so with respect and care. The questions you ask each other are:

  • What does it mean to “act like a woman/ man”, what do we tell children?
  • What are the expectations for women/men in my context?
  • How are women and men supposed to be different?
  • What feelings is a “real man” or a “real woman” supposed to have?
  • How do “real men” or “real women” express their feelings?
  • How are “real men” or “real women” supposed to act sexually?
Gender Norms Exercise

Once you have filled the boxes ask yourselves: what happens to people who act outside the box? Write this around the “man” and “woman” boxes. Also, write down names people are called who act outside the box. While it is important to identify these words, remember that they can be offensive and harmful, so be careful and respectful as you do this exercise.

Reflection

Once both boxes are filled, reflect with your group on how these gender stereotypes, roles, and norms influence our lives. Which box would you say has more power? In which domain – does it differ from household level to the political arena?

These boxes reflect how our society has different expectations for a person depending on their gender and the repercussions if you do not conform to the norm. Discuss as a group how this has an effect on HIV in your setting or your target population. Next, see if you can come up with ways to change these boxes.

Finally, each person can individually reflect on where they personally sit in relation to the boxes. If everyone feels comfortable they could share with the group, because taking a gender lens is also a personal exercise.

Group of people talking

Read more about 8 Days for Gender Equality

For 8 days, from Zero Discrimination Day (1 March) to International Women's Day (8 March), Aidsfonds raised awareness for gender equality with our ​8 Days for Gender Equality Campaign. Each day we covered strategic action that can be taken against gender inequality fueling the AIDS epidemic. We invite everyone to help spread awareness. Join the movement on Twitter by sharing your own experience and approaches on gender equality and HIV using the hashtag #GenderEqualityandHIV. 

Aidsfonds' renewed Big Picture (2020) is out now! Access the full guide on how to develop a gender transformative approach in HIV programming, filled with approaches, exercises, case studies and loads more. Download guide

 

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