Ranjana and her brother work as a team

Tuesday 5 July 2022

Ranjana is a 14-year-old girl from Saptari who studies in the ninth grade. She lives with her brother and parents and are also enrolled in Save the Children’s sponsorship program. They are also members of the child club in their community/school and participants of CHOICES sessions by the ‘Ending Discriminatory Gender Norms in Sponsorship Program Area (Gender Centric) Project’ which aims to empower children to change gender norms within their home and the community.

Ranjana and her brother say their perception on their own gender roles has changed after the sessions. Ranjana had experienced unconscious bias even within her home as her parents thought that girls must focus on housework to prepare to be a daughter-in-law in future while her brother took his freedom from housework for granted by being neglectful of the unconscious bias to her sister. “We are expected to give more time to household chores than our brothers and our parents also think that girls should do the work because we must get married someday and will have to do all the housework in our husband’s house,” says Ranjana.

After participating in the sessions, the siblings have started dividing all housework among themselves regardless of their gender and her brother has started helping her and their mother in cooking, doing dishes and cleaning the house.  Being a member of a child club has helped them understand children’s issues and the CHOICES sessions has added to their learning of gender sensitiveness, says Ranjana. The CHOICES sessions contain various topics like gender roles, difference between sex and gender, aspirations, respecting each other and other gender sensitive contents “I often make tea for my family, and they love it,” says Shivasagar, Ranjana’s brother.

Ranjana and her brother, along with other members of their child club have initiated various awareness raising rallies where they speak about letting children spend more time in studies and cutting down time on excess housework for girls, anti-child marriage slogans and equal opportunities for girls and boys. The child club had been conducting awareness activities on children’s issues regularly and the CHOICES sessions for Ranjana and her brother has given them a chance to aware other child club members on gender roles and speaking about it with a louder voice.

Their parents also participated in the VOICES sessions, which is a four-month long gender sensitive parenting package divided into 17 weekly sessions. The CHOICES session for children consists of 12 weekly sessions in a span of three months. Both these sessions aim to empower the participant to change gender norms and break the bias within their home and their community.

 About the project:

Ending Discriminatory Gender Norms in Sponsorship Program Area (Gender Centric) Project is specially designed to complement the existing sponsorship program in Saptari, Mahottari and Sarlahi districts through implementing partners Sabal Nepal, Save the Saptari, Ratauli Yuva Club and Rural Women Upliftment Association respectively. It targets children aged 10 to 16 years to promote knowledge and attitudinal changes in gender norms at home, community, school and government through capacity building trainings and choices, voices, promises (CVP) and positive parenting approaches.

Through the Gender Centric project, a total of 467 out of school adolescent girls (10-16 years) of all 7 working Palikas were identified in close coordination with local government officials and they were provided bursary support to continue the education. All of them are back to school and continuing their formal education.

A total of 125 schoolteachers (head teachers and gender focal teachers), 263 WCPC (Ward Child Protection Committee) members, school management committee and parent teacher association members, 50 child club graduated children, 50 gender champions and 25 project staffs were trained on gender related courses. Similarly, 4,600 girls and boys from 201 child clubs actively participated in the Choices sessions (12 sessions) where they learnt about sex and gender, relation of protection, lights of hopes, fuel of dream etc. They learnt on how to do behave respectfully with each other and how to help each other at home, school, and community despite of gender differences.

Likewise, 4,624 parents of child club members participated in Voices, Promises and Positive Parenting sessions which helped in raising awareness on gender related issues through the sessions. The major contents included making them understand that punishing is not a way to discipline children, making them realize that children should be sent to school instead of making them do household chores, discriminating against girls as the same and allowing them equal time for study, play and life skill enhancing housework etc.

The project was successful in constructing 18 gender friendly toilets (17 new toilet construction and 2 renovation) in Saptari district. Besides gender friendly toilets, a total of 27 schools were fitted with pad vending machines (20 in Saptari, 3 in Mahottari and 4 in Sarlahi district) which dispenses pads automatically by using a coin.