Why are gender awareness trainings important?

Islamabad: “Aray yaar, she is going to get married, have a baby and quit this job. No reason to send him to training.

“Women have to stay at home and take care of the family.

We have all heard comments like these or witnessed action that negatively targets women workers. It is often unintentional – nevertheless, it is unacceptable.

Men who use micro-aggression may mean no harm and may not even realize they are making a sexist comment. However, insensitive comments can be extremely hurtful to girls and women, especially if there is nothing they can do about it.

An example of behavioral microaggression would be a manager ignoring an employee’s comments during a meeting. Another example of insensitivity to the environment would be office furniture that makes it easier for anyone to approach.

Depending on your perspective and how you have experienced gender, it can be quite obvious or very confusing to understand the importance of gender awareness training.

Political circles, educational institutions, the corporate world, retail and others are unfortunately unaware of the sexism and other forms of discrimination that plague their institutions. A handful of organizations organize gender awareness training.

What is gender sensitivity training and why should we care? Gender sensitivity training includes lessons on the concept of gender, how different genders have different perspectives and the critical need to bridge the gender gap to support equality. Depending on the training environment, it may focus more on gender discrimination in the workforce or in a particular field. Or, it can highlight the barriers that certain genders face in higher education. After covering key concepts and terms at scale, the gender sensitivity training will relate these macro level notions to a specific group of people in an office, classroom or other community.

This training is essential for integrating diverse perspectives into our daily life. In gender awareness workshops, participants learn the diverse perspectives of other genres and develop a more complete understanding of the human experience, which ultimately benefits everyone.

What are the best practices ? Here is what we have learned during several gender awareness workshops held so far.

Remember that everyone has an implied bias. For this reason, it may be best to find a third party to conduct training for you and your group. This way you will benefit from a more objective assessment and learning experience.

Be sure to incorporate teachings about gender identity and appropriate pronouns. These concepts may be entirely new to some. Therefore, they will help those who are unfamiliar not to offend anyone and better understand gender as a social construct.

Linking gender sensitivity training to other necessary training such as anti-bullying or harassment will help create a cohesive program.

It is essential to define intersectionality as part of your training. This will encourage the understanding that gender cuts across many social categories like race, class, etc.

A fundamental principle of gender sensitive training is to refrain from making assumptions about gender and people’s preferences. Make sure this is covered.

Do everything you can to get the participants’ attention. Conducting interactive exercises, bringing in participants who have not spoken, and similar practices will ensure that people are in the best possible setting to soak up the information.

Finally, be sure to use relevant examples throughout the course. The connection of general concepts to real instances allows participants to contextualize and concretely understand the concepts.

Gender sensitive training can have a huge impact. We know this because we can see the difference in language and attitudes before and after the workshop.