It takes a village to raise a child

It takes a village to raise a child”, says an African proverb. Even in our western societies, where families are small and parents often raise children pretty much by themselves, the meaning of the proverb is quite clear: an entire community of people should interact with children for them to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. This is also true for gender norms and how they affect our lives: even when parents are careful in not transmitting these, eventually children absorb them from peers, at school or from the media.

That is why the activities of the “Gender ABC” project targeted not only children, but the whole school and the community surrounding them. In every school, we first met with school managers, then organised a launch meeting with parents to present the educational program and its aims. Afterwards, the educational sessions with children progressed alongside with training of teachers and other school staff on forms of gender-based violence, risk assessment and GBV response. In the meanwhile, we met with local authorities and support services of the area to inform them about the ongoing activities and create links.

At the end, we organised a final awareness event in each school, inviting parents, teachers, local authorities, and members of the community, together with other children from the school. During the events, it has been rewarding to see children discuss what they had learned with adults who are now more aware of how gender bias can impact on their lives and willing to build a village where every child is free from violence and can choose her/his own path.