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Surprise for Mom – Activity to break stereotypes based on gender roles




Number of Participants: Any

Setting (Indoor / Outdoor): Any

Estimate Execution Time: 30 mins

  • To break stereotypes based on gender roles.
  • To value the work of a homemaker.
  • To make students independent as far as small day to day chores are concerned

Aprons, head covers, food ingredients ( like bread, vegetables, cheese, ketchup, lemon, water, salt, sugar, tea, coffee, milk, etc..), utensils, buttons, handkerchief, needle, thread.

  1. Ask the students, both boys and girls, to come prepared for cooking class. The attendance for this class should be compulsory and the teachers can also use this activity for marking the internal assessment.
  2. Teach students basic cooking like making sandwiches, baking cookies, beverages like tea, coffee, lemonade, etc..
  3. Give the students freedom to choose their ingredients.
  4. The school can also take help from the Home Science department or hire an expert person for the activity.
  5. Ask the students to repeat this activity at home over the weekend and give a surprise breakfast/tea to their mothers. This can also be a surprise on ‘Mothers’ Day’.
  6. Ask them to click a photograph of their dish and paste it in their Life Skills notebook.
  7. Also, ask them to request their mothers to give their views about their children’s cooking and also how they felt about the surprise.
  8. In the next life skills class ask students to get buttons, handkerchiefs along with needles and threads.
  9. Teach them to sew buttons.
  10. Now ask them to make beautiful designs with them.
  11. Ask them to gift this handkerchief to their mothers on ‘Mother’s Day’.
  12. Ask them to get themselves clicked with their mothers while gifting them these gifts.
  13. Ask them to request their mothers to comment on their sewing and also write down their reactions in their notebooks.
  14. Likewise, ask students to help their mother’s in small household chores like cutting and arranging salad, making snacks for themselves, making their beds and tidying up their rooms in the morning, doing grocery shopping,etc..
  15. Ask their mothers to write down how they helped them over the week in their notebooks.
  1. Was it easy or difficult to think about non-conventional uses of a certain object?
  2. Can they think of situations when such out-of-box thinking as helped them in the past / or would help them in the future?
  1. A facilitator’s role is to conduct the activity – put together the material, give instructions, ensure fairness and no cheating, keep score, ask reflection questions and summarise the learning. Any extra tasks will be mentioned in other sections.
  2. Encourage the children to think out-of-box and widely. Try not to limit their thinking by asking them to justify a certain usage. You could ask clarification questions to know more about a certain use, without rejecting it.
  3. The facilitator does not have to take on the role of a teacher. Be careful that you don’t start preaching to the players from your own life experiences.
  4. Set up the activity like a game, to be fun. Do not make it stressful for the players such that they feel that they are being tested.

Gender Sensitization:
Gender sensitization is questioning our own as well as other people’s rigid views as far as gender roles are concerned. It means breaking stereotypes and stigmas related to gender roles.

While ‘sex’ is biological difference between male and female, ‘gender’ is social classification of men and women by assigning them certain roles in society. Certain roles such as ‘cooking’, ‘doing household chores’, ‘child-care’, taking up professions like teaching are associated with women. On the other hand professions like engineering, driving ,etc.are associated with men.This difference actually starts from a very young age when girls are gifted toys like dolls and kitchen sets, while boys are given toy guns and cars. This can be called a kind of training in which girls are trained to be calm, polite and docile while boys are trained to be aggressive and loud.

This difference is also seen from what the children grow up observing around them and reading in their text-books. They grow up seeing ‘mothers’ as home-makers and fathers as ‘bread-winners’. Thus, they know that if they feel hungry they have to go to their moms and if they want a new toy they need to ask their dads. Once upon a time these were by and large the share of responsibility in every household. But, with the changing times, women have started working outside and many men have proved to be exceptional home-makers. Nowadays in many families, both men and women, take their proper share both inside as well as outside home. Thus, to encourage this, the children need to be taught from a very young age that gender does not decide their social roles. There are actually three issues involved. First is about the ‘respect given to home-makers’. Since,home-makers are visualized as being at home and their house-hold work does not have any economic value, their hard work is usually overlooked. So, home-maker women are usually imagined as enjoying a comfortable life sitting at home while men work hard outside. Similarly, if in a household, a woman is the bread-earner and man is the home-maker a lot of social taboos are attached to him.
Another issue is the problem associated with a home-maker trying to make her identity in public life. There are so many obstacles in her path from household work, cooking, child-care, caring for elderly that she hardly gets time for herself.

Another issue is that even if women start working outside home, they have the double responsibility of managing both household as well as professional responsibilities. Many men simply refuse to accept household responsibilities.

Interestingly, number of men cooking at home is less but men working as chiefs is quite high. If a woman takes leaves from her work because her child is unwell, she is considered to be an unprofessional person, on the other hand if a man does so he is considered to be a caring father. There are many such stigmas in our society as far as gender roles are concerned.

According to Adolescent Educational researcher- Anindita Roy “Change must begin from a young age.” She points out “In a patriarchal country like India, where stark gender roles, overt gender discrimination and devaluation of women and girls is ingrained into our daily lives. I feel that it is extremely important to identify and address this problem from a very young age. Boys and girls start developing their gendered identities from birth. The upbringing from home also influences them. While egalitarian gender roles may not be present at home, the school can become a space of transformation where children, especially those hailing from disadvantaged backgrounds, learn to question gender roles, identify areas of gender discrimination and work towards changing them.” Thus, the need of the hour is to start questioning gender identities from a very young age. This can be done by teaching basic life-skills like cooking, sewing etc. to kids of both genders in school. This will change the society’s mindsets and would create a more gender sensitive future.

Reference: Adolescent Educational researcher- Anindita Roy’s views are taken from > issues


Written by Sheetal Mahajan

Book lover, loves writing, avid reader and most importantly a learner...student for life.

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