Tunisia is perceived as the most progressive Arab nation when it comes to women’s rights. In fact, the Tunisian constitution guarantees an absolute equality between genders. However, women still face harassment on the streets, in the workplace and most importantly at school. Furthermore, they form a minority in leadership positions. Indeed, women in the region of Gafsa only hold 7% of leadership position compared to 34% in Tunis. One of the main causes of this imbalance is directly related to women’s lack of confidence and self-esteem. Indeed, women often think they are intellectually and physically inferior to men and tend to underestimate their skills and knowledge. These facts prove that law enforcement is insufficient to address the issue of gender equality.
Hence, we, as high school student, need to increase the civic engagement of high school students in order to raise their awareness on such issues.
The project YAV Pioneer HS of Gafsa is suggesting is called “Women for a Change”: This project would target female students aged between 14-19 years old and would have a variety of objectives.
These objectives include raising public awareness about gender equality, enhancing young women’s confidence and self-esteem, enhancing leadership skills and putting them to practice. The project is achievable in a period of 7 months and we consider implementing this initiative in 4 different high schools in Gafsa (Pioneer HS, Ibn Rached HS, Bouzayen HS and Hay Chabeb HS). We know engaged students attending these schools who could help to achieve our objectives. From 10 to 15 participants from each high school would be selected after submitting an application.
The selected students would attend workshops to learn leadership skills, improve their communication techniques, and explore issues like harassment, relationships, body image, and domestic violence. Instead of simply taking notes, the workshops would be designed as learning activities, group work, and interactive discussions. Through targeted communicative activities the girls would even enhance their self-esteem. About two months are needed in order to achieve this first short term goal.
After the theoretical part, the trainees would apply their new skills. The participants will eventually create a “Women for a Change” club in their respective high schools. After organizing elections, the young women would hold leadership positions in their different clubs. For the weekly meeting, we could invite inspirational female figures such as local business women, activists and political leaders. The participants would be free to choose the types of activities performed in the club varying from having debates to learning self-defense techniques.
Afterwards, they will try to create a short film related to gender equality among the 4 clubs. They would be free to choose the specific theme, content presented, and artistic execution. If needed, the assistance of a drama or music teacher would be available. Three months would be necessary to accomplish the second goal.
During the final event, the short films would be presented either in a cultural center or a public space downtown. Various leading women from different backgrounds could prepare speeches for the audience. But most importantly, a few participants would share their experiences about how the project has influenced them.
In order to organize the entire event and invite local news channels, I would need a month.
Throughout the whole project, we would post updates and pictures on a Facebook page and videos on a YouTube channel. Thus, we would advertise for the final event and enhance the engagement in the community with the project.
The evaluation method consists of the comparison of the participants’ surveys pre and post project. This initiative would not end there. On the contrary, we would use the event’s feedback to improve my approach then increase the number workshops organized and clubs created the following year.
We believe that change has to happen from within
We believe that every young woman has the ability to say
“I choose. I can. And I will”