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Rescuing and Valuing the Women starting from Brazilian Campus

By Raphaele Godinho

· South America,Education,Women

It isn't easy being born in Brazil, as in many other countries. The Human Development Index (HDI) of the country is 0,754; it had two presidents in less than four years, besides being known internationally for its corruption. Growing up in Brazil is not also easy. The cities from countryside are full of conservative values, because of it most of people are always against new ideas. Furthermore, conservative values influence young so that they start to believe in these values.

Living in this country is like watching many terror movies, because I’m 17 years old now and my older classmates leave the studies to marry, work or have kids before finishing high school. When we grow up listening that girls like us need to cook, clean and take care, for the rest of our lives because this is our destiny, we start to believe that is true. I noticed this phenomenon gradually, when I was 15 and my friends started to get pregnant and have engagement rings, but they wouldn’t know if they could achieve a graduation. At first, I thought it was normal, but I noticed some mistakes, because I didn’t like that, so for what reason they were that way?

Me (Raphaele), Cleide (coordinator of a cultural project) and the children of the project  “Grow With Art”. In a chat we talked about feminism and female representation in school.

Raphaele with students from Brazil

Photo from Raphaele Godinho

I grew up with books and strong women, I was aware of my woman condition as well my girl condition in the society, I was sure that if I didn’t have strength and inspiration enough, I probably would follow the same way those girls and I would end up being a frustrated housewife. I didn’t mean that housewife is the worst occupation. It is very important in a society. What I mean is girls need to know they can be more than they actually are.

I noticed this phenomenon little by little. All of my friends, only the boys had high self-esteem, on the other hand the girls didn’t believe in their potential. In addition, I also noticed that boys grew up surrounded by famous masculine figures inspiration, because, mainly in schools, men are principal references in all school books. Then, where are the women in the books? Why were not they mentioned? What kind of effect could it cause for women?

Women are not part of it. Rarely, we study women in schools. The worst part is knowing that there are many great historical female figures. They should be in our school books, in order to inspire girls of Z generation to believe in theirselves. However, unfortunately they weren’t there and nowadays are still not.

  “Do you like feeling safe? Without Marie Van Brittan Brown it couldn't be possible!” That is  what the poster says. Other posters like that were scattered around the school.

Photo from Raphaele Godinho

A research made by a scientific journal named Science showed that children – between 5 and 7 years old – think men are smarter than women. Besides that, according to psychologist Luis Saraiva from Psychology Institute at USP (São Paulo University), - which studies issues related to family studies, gender relations and sexuality - says boys are invited for strategy games, such as chess, more often than girls. Because of this, Brazilian educational system is teaching only one message for the girls: you're not intelligent, so why study? It is also important to remember the position of Brazil in international ranking of married kids, according to Az Mina Magazine and Unicef, Brazil is in fourth place, with more than 2 million married girls.

Considering all this, when I was 16 years old, I created an educational project called "Rescuing and Valuing The Woman", with Youth Parliament of MERCOSUR support, in which, in a different way from habitual, we talk about the great female personalities and inequality of gender. Where I live, this topic is always a taboo, and since this project started, our scenario is being changed with the teenagers affected by this project.

At International Women's Day, students take a break in their normal activities and talk  about inequality of gender and violence against women.

Raphaele speak about women empowerment to her peers.

Photo from Raphaele Godinho

Here, in São Paulo state, one of the most typical musical genre among teenagers is the Rap. At our school, a student called Eduardo wrote and sang a special rap song to my project called “Rexpeita” and it is about gender equality. Some students changed their minds with this song, they started to talk about how girls and boys should be equal. In the classes, there is an activity with teachers support called “Messengers of the day” in which great women in society have their work and lives rescuing, all students of school participate in these activity every day, and this has been started because “Rescuing and Valuing the Woman”. The big changes delay to happen in society, but little things like this are very significative to have a better world for all girls.

We talked about women who are not in our books: great chemist, physicist, authors and poets. All of this to compensate for their lack in our school context. This way we could show the girls we are intelligent. Besides that, we raise awareness among the students about the importance to support girls who lives in a sexist context worse than ours, like Malala Yousafzai. The documentary "He Named Me Malala" was watched for all students in the school where the project is being applied, and her history has already started being an inspiration for the girls in my school.

The documentary "He Named Me Malala" was watched for all students in the school  where the project is being applied.

Photo from Raphaele Godinho

We talked openly about the combat of violence against women, in order to everybody can understand more about this problem and realize the importance to solve it. We work with kids too, using chats, songs and stories for children, in other schools of the city and partner projects. The project events happen in big spaces of schools where, with others teenagers, we make conversation about inequality of gender and women difficulties in society. We generally tell the students stories about great women in society and the importance to promote gender equality. It is like a chat where everybody can talk about feelings in this so delicate theme. With children, we talk about the prejudice against girls and tell true stories of great women as if it were fairy tales. These events and activities are supported by others school’s students, then girls and boys can be main of situation, some girls are responsible with me to make the banners and organize the events.

We make posters in school, to show what do in cases of violence against women.

Photo from Raphaele Godinho

In Brazil, many girls leave the school at their own option, because they don't know the opportunities they could have. This is a problem the project want to solve. If we give freedom for the young girls today, we will plant a seed, which will germinate by itself, and we will also set free, naturally, their daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters, and who knows one day, all nation. Information is essential, and I believe it will be an important way to solve part of the world problems.

The most interesting thing about this project is that it can be adapted for many other countries and regions realities. All informative activities are made with standardized banners and panels, it can have specifics information for each country, such as statistics and inspirational female figures. Besides it, other activities such as movies and chats can be adapted too. The entire project execution follows a careful prepared schedule and its expenses are cheap, such as paper store materials, banners (they are reused by others schools) and so on. The "Rescuing And Valuing Woman" doesn't need a big structure, or a big amount of money. It only needs to survive is to pass the information to girls and motivate them to follow their dreams and have their objectives.

Raphaele won the first prize of Change Magazine Essay Competition on Girls Education in September 2017, which attracted submissions from 20+ countries across the world. Raphaele's article was carefully selected after the careful evaluation from the judging panel consisting of 5 experts in the media and education fields.

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