By: Sutami, Manikaji School, Grade 8
My name is Sutami, an 8th grade student from Manikaji. This year, I joined the EMpower Program where I studied Gender for the first time. Actually, I’ve heard the word “gender” mentioned several times at home because my two older brothers are in the EMpower program, and then I thought gender has similar meaning with sex. Now that I have studied gender in class, I realize that it has a broader meaning: a characteristic of women and men determined by their society.
Before I studied gender, I thought that women’s rights were limited and usually they were perceived as weak. Women can only do things related to housework, but now I understand that women can actually do many things in their lives, continue their studies, and do men’s work as long as we have the same opportunities.
When I entered the class and the teacher told us that we were going to learn gender, I was a little nervous because I didn’t understand the concept of gender. But the teacher explained the topic very carefully and made the lesson more fun. I learned a lot of new things such as the definition of gender, gender equality and inequality, gender roles and traditional gender norms in our society, and patriarchy.
After I came home from gender class, I realized that there were gender inequalities in my community, such as girls not being allowed to go out at night or sleep at their friends’ houses. Furthermore, women are not invited to village meetings and women do not get any inheritance whether they are married or not.
On the other hand, men have different roles and treatment in my villages. Men are expected to always be strong, not cry, work hard, and be more responsible than women. I just hope that in the future women and men in my village can be treated fairly so that they can make an equal contribution to our community. •