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Gender Equality Festival, 2011, 6th edition

Finaced by Youth in Action Program (Tineret In Actiune)

Being a real man is not about overpowering women and being a woman is not about submitting to male power. We can free ourselves from gender stereotypes by being aware of them. This was the main message of the Gender Equality Festival organized between 21 and 23 October 2011 by the Association for Gender Equality and Liberty – A.L.E.G. in Sibiu, Romania. Over 200 teenagers from Sibiu participated in this educational campaign, fighting stereotypes about men and women which feed different forms of discrimination and violence. The campaign used non-formal education methods to create a variety of attractive events.

During the street event “Choose your words” which took place on the city center pedestrian area, the passers-by had the chance to spell out their own understanding about gender equality with the help of 30 volunteers acting ashuman letters. Over 40 people stopped to share with us their own definitions of gender equality, such as: “respect for women”, “different together”, “fidelity”, “protection”, “harmony”, “friendship”, etc. Some other 100 passers-by stopped to reflect on the written words and to take part in the survey organized by A.L.E.G. on the topic of gender equality.

Gender Treasure Hunt was a team competition organized in the open-air ASTRA Museum from Dumbrava Sibiului (ASTRA Museum was our partner in this project and allowed the participants free access for the event). Eleven teams (made up of boy and girl) had to pass through ten practical assignments which gave them the opportunity to become aware of gender stereotypes and prejudices (e.g. boys are not good at doing household chores and girls don’t have any technical skills), and to discover the values and significance of equality between sexes. AVON cosmetics offered the prizes for this competition. The follow-up was a workshop on gender education held by Camelia Proca – A.L.E.G. director and Miruna Roman – member of A.L.E.G..

The race Equals on Bicycles took place in the city Subarini Park. For this race, A.L.E.G. in collaboration with the Association “Tura in Natura” managed to promote not only gender equality, but also a healthy lifestyle by combining the practical challenge (competitors had to ride their bicycles in teams of two on a pre-established route) with a creative one (crafting a collage to express their own vision on gender equality using symbols picked up at checkpoints during the race). Eleven teams registered for this competition, all made up of one boy and one girl; the first two places received prizes financed by the Sibiu County Council through the ASTRA Library.

One of the most successful activities of the Festival was the Human Library hosted by the Gong Theatre for Children and Youth”. During this activity, around 20 participants experienced a form of unconventional reading. This activity was an invitation to communication, tolerance and mutual understanding beyond stereotypes and prejudices with the help of Human Books – people whose stories contradict social generalizations. Our books showed that a girl can be a car racer, a father can change diapers, or that a blind girl can be very successful.

The 3 Forum Theatre shows (one hosted by the Gong Theatre and two in a local pub and a cafe) gathered around 140 participants. The plays, performed by professional actors, dealt with topics like domestic abuse and human trafficking and mocked sexist commercials promoted by the mass media. The specific challenge of forum theatre is for the public to actively get involved in changing the plot by proposing solutions to the problematic situations illustrated by the play; this encourages the building of new attitudes and behaviours. During the show performed at the Gong Theatre, our skilled moderator managed to involve over 20 people from the public in proposing solutions and 9 of them went up on the stage and replaced the actors.

A.L.E.G. has been organizing this festival since 2004, but in 2011 the young members in the organization took over both concept and implementation. All those involved in the core team were between 16 and 29 years old. The Festival was funded by the European Commissionthrough the Youth in Action Program and co-financed by the Sibiu County Council through the ASTRA Library and Global Fund for Children. Last but not least, we are thankful for the contribution of the following partners: The ASTRA National Museum Complex, Tura in Natura Association, Avon Cosmetics and our media partners:Sibiu 100%, Radio Kiss FM and Zile şi Nopţi magazine.

Download the guide here Ghid de promovare a galitatii de gen prin metode non formale