‘We teach girls to shrink themselves…’


For the last couple of decades, our attitudes on gender roles have been strictly isolated. Women and men have been assigned to do certain roles, a societal belief about how men and women are expected to behave and must be followed. Women are housewives which means they do everything inside the house, from cleaning to cooking and to taking care of the children. Meanwhile, men belong outside, working to provide for the family or getting an education. Believe it or not gender discrimination is still an ongoing issue, as you can tell by the way Beyonce points out how girls and boys are being taught to do certain things and have certain attributes. In one of her lines, she states, “You can have ambition But not too much You should aim to be successful But not too successful”.  Why are girls not allowed to receive an education and be successful as boys?

In the book, Social Psychology mentioned how women are required to show kindness and nurturance while men show strength and smarts. Beyonce speaks on how girls are taught how to be small and how they must follow the gender roles of being a mother, give support and love, and behave normally. Then, she claims how boys should be taught the same way such as give love, support, and behave normally as well. However, her way of trying to break the gender roles is by reminding her fans, specifically women, to not let society dehumanize their identity by being told how women should act. Being ourselves, as a human being and not following any gender roles is what makes us a human. Unfortunately, it is the schemas, the way we organize the world, that makes it difficult for us to break the gender discrimination since we are culturally embedded on how both genders are suppose to behave or act. Although, psychologically speaking, it is hard to break that discrimination, do you think it is possible to do that without erasing or interrupting the countries’ cultural norms?

In the Guardian article, Girl speak out: I want to be a lawyer to take action for pregnant children, couple of girls have stated that in their countries, males are the one who dominant the households and communities. Yuma, 15, who is from Nicaragua, says “It’s hard to be a girl where I live…Men have all the power…” Another girl, Awazi, 15, from Uganda, says “I would live it if Uganda worked on girl-child education introduced programmes to help to make sure girls stay in school. What that means is that we need strict laws to punish those marrying off young girls.” This is only a couple of stories from different countries who has all these wishes and dreams that are difficult to overcome in their home country. Girls in developing countries has the capabilities and skills, but they are being pushed back from furthering their education due to economic and culture constraints. In the article, Making room for girls, C.R. stated that “Some are kept away by the religious qualms of their families…. Other are needed as child labour to prop up household incomes when times are tough, due to the lack of developed insurance or saving systems in these countries.” No matter what are the obstacles within the families, girls are always the one who are pushed back from their dreams or wishes.

Education is one of the most important factor and essential tool. The last blogpost I wrote on HIV/AIDS and education, and the impact it may have if we do not educate our children on it. Mostly the people who do not have any access to education are the girls or females. The girls are at a disadvantage partially because most countries are very traditional, which means they follow the gender norms. Women are the ones who cook, clean, and provide love and care to the family, meanwhile, men are the ones who get the education and get a job to provide the family with food and a home. However, these gender norms do not discuss how significant HIV/AIDS can destroy the family and the individual health. Lesly Wood claims that “More African women than ever before are living with HIV: 59% of the adult population in sub-Saharan Africa and in some countries up to 68%,” (51). These statistics are pretty high especially in sub-Saharan Africa and if we allow this cycle to continue, eventually the spread of disease will become difficult to prevent and slowly this can affect the population will of the country. It is important to incorporate how gender inequalities can play a significant role and how that may negatively impact them. In order to structure the curriculum around gender inequalities, educators must consider that females tend to feel uncomfortable to speak in front of males, so this throughout the practice educators should divide the gender, then later into the activity bring the discussion as whole. Wood claims that “Gender Equality needs to become a reality, in order to beat HIV,” (51). And this is where educators need to make sure that men fully understand what it means to be HIV-Positive and how that can damage their life, partner, and family.  Educators need to break the gender discrimination and emphasis women on their rights to say ‘no’ towards men sexual behaviors. However, the big question is how can we break gender discrimination without interfering in their culture? And is it possible to have break the gender discrimination?



Aronson, E (et. al) “Social Psychology.” 9TH Edition

Wood, L. “Dealing with HIV and AIDS- Sociocultural Factors.” Chapter 3. 48-65.



One thought on “‘We teach girls to shrink themselves…’”

  1. This is a really interesting post. I am always really interested to read about how women around the world speak on power dynamics – I know that before I formally learned about gender and feminism, I felt too unaware and lacking of the correct vocabulary to talk about power. Thanks for this!

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