Online Toolkit

Part 5 - Modules

Take a Step Forward

MAIN THEMESGender equality, stereotypes.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVESTo raise awareness on different gender roles in societies and how those gender roles influence peoples lives.
To foster an understanding of possible personal consequences of belonging to a certain gender.
Create a calm atmosphere with some soft background music. Alternatively, ask the participants for silence.
Hand out the role cards at random, one to each participant. Tell them to keep it to themselves and to not show it to anyone else.
Invite them to sit down (preferably on the floor) and to read their role card.

Now ask them to begin to get into role. To help, read out some of the following questions, pausing after each one, to give people time to reflect and build a picture of themselves and their lives: What is your everyday life like now? Where do you socialise? What do you do in the morning, afternoon, in the evening? What sort of lifestyle do you have? How much money do you earn?
What do you do in your leisure time?
Now ask people to remain absolutely silent as they line up beside each other (like in a starting line).

Tell the participants that you're going to read out a list of situations or events. Every time that they can answer ''yes'' to the statement, they should take a step forward. If they answer ''no'' to the statement, they should take a step backward.

Read out the situations one at a time. Pause for a while between each statement to allow people to step backwards or forward and to look around and to take note of their positions relative to each other.
At the end invite everyone to take note of their final positions. Then give them a couple of minutes to come out of role before debriefing in plenary.

Debriefing and Evaluation:
Start by asking participants about what happened and how they feel about the activity and then go on and talk about the issues raised and what they learnt:
- How did people feel moving forward or backward?
- Did anyone feel that there were moments when their gender role prevented them from taking part in society?
- Did anyone feel that there were moments when their basic human rights were being ignored because of gender roles in society?
- Can people guess each others roles?( Let people reveal their roles during this part of the discussion)
- Does the exercise mirror society in some way? How?
- How does your role relate to gender inequality in society?
MATERIALSRole cards.
A wide open space (can also be outside) where there is enough room to do the module.
METHODOLOGY USEDGroup activity, discussion.
MORE INFORMATION This module is adapted from the exercise: Take a step forward, listed on page 217-221 in: "Compass: A manual on human rights education with young people" from 2007, published by the Council of Europe. For more interesting modules and exercises, please visit:

The following role cards are just to give you an impression of what roles you can use for this exercise. You can adjust them to your specific context or you can even make up entire new roles. Sometimes it is easy to change countries according to where all your participants are from.
  • You are a 24 year old Afghan refugee living in the Netherlands.
  • You are a 28 year old man who wants to marry his boyfriend, living in a catholic village in Italy.
  • You are an unemployed single mother living in Belarus.
  • You are a transgender without a job living in Spain.
  • You are an Arab Muslim girl living with your parents who are devoutly religious people.
  • You are a 17 year old Roma (gypsy) girl living in France who has never finished primary school.
  • You are an illegal immigrant from Mexico living and working in the USA.
  • You are a 20 year old widow living in a refugee camp in Congo with a child.
  • You are a disabled young man living in Czech who can only move in a wheelchair.
  • You are a 22 year old lesbian who lives together with her girlfriend in Poland.

    You don't have to read out all of the following situations or events. You can use less if you don't have much time or you could also adjust them or make up entire new ones if you think they will fit better with your "target group".
    • You have never encountered any serious financial difficulty.
    • You feel your language, culture and religion are respected in the society where you live.
    • You feel that you're opinion on social and political issues matters, and your views are listened to.
    • You are not afraid of being stopped by the police.
    • You know where to turn for help and advice if you need it.
    • You have never felt discriminated against because of your origin or gender.
    • You have adequate social and medical protection for your needs.
    • You can invite friends for dinner at home.
    • You feel you can study and follow the profession of your choice.
    • You are not afraid of being harassed or attacked in the streets, or in the media.
    • You can vote in national and local elections.
    • You are not afraid for the future of your children.
    • You can fall in love with the person of your choice.
    • You feel that your competence is appreciated and respected in the society where you live.
    • You can celebrate the most important religious festivals with your relatives and close friends.
    • You have decent housing.
    • You can move freely in your society and any other country.