Girls And Boys

  • Sex and gender are different concepts. Usually, people do not understand the differences among these. Thus it is important for the facilitator to help girls become aware of these differences through this activity. See Handout 8 on Sex and Gender.
  • Flipchart or Chalkboard
  • Pens/Markers or Chalk
Time Required: 
One hour
  • To understand how people perceive differences between men and women.
  • To understand how traditional gender roles are played out between men and women.
  • To show how some differences are stereotypes
  1. Draw two columns on the chalkboard/paper. In the first column, write ‘woman’ and in the second column write ‘man’.
  2. Ask the girls to make a list of things that come into their mind when they hear or see the word ‘woman’. Write these in the first column while they are being said.
  3. During this exercise, the girls may mention positive or negative attributes and these should be listed out as stated. Also, girls may mention both social and biological characteristics. List out all that is being mentioned by the girls without any discussion.
  4. Repeat the same activity for the column ‘man’ and list the characteristics mentioned.
  5. Now, review some of the characteristics that were listed in the columns and repeat or mark the characteristics listed in both the columns. Then exchange the titles of the columns putting ‘woman’ in the place of ‘man’ and vice versa.
  6. Ask the girls if the characteristics mentioned for women could be attributed to men and vice versa.
  7. Ask the girls to identify characteristics that girls consider to be given ‘by nature’ and those given ‘by society’. Mark these using two different colours (for nature and society) or write N and S.
  8. Use the questions below to facilitate a discussion about which characteristics the girls do not think can be attributed to both men and women, and why. Explain that those characteristics that cannot be attributed to both men and women are considered sex characteristics and those that can be attributed to both men and women are gender characteristics. However, as discussed above, it is important that these sex and gender categories are not presented as rigid.
Discussion Questions: 
  • What does it mean to be a woman? Who is a ‘real woman’ and who is an ‘ideal woman’?
  • What does it mean to be a man? Who is a ‘real man’ and who is an ‘ideal man’?
  • Do you think boys and girls are raised the same way? Why or why not?
  • What is a woman’s role in an intimate relationship? What is a man’s role? How do they deal with their emotions – in the same way or differently?
  • What characteristics attributed to women and men are valued as positive or negative by our society?
  • How do these differences and inequalities in being a woman or a man affect our daily lives? How do these differences affect our relationship with family and partners?
  • What would it be like for a woman to assume gender characteristics traditionallassociated with men? Would it be hard or easy? How would it be for men to assume gender characteristics traditionally assigned to women?
  • What are the influences that affect our perceptions and behaviours about being a woman or a man? Our family? Our friends?
  • What effects do you think media (television, magazines, radio, etc.) has on our perceptions regarding the meaning of being a man or woman?
  • How can we, in our own lives, challenge some of the negative expectations of how men should act? How can we challenge some of the negative expectations of how women should act?