Miss G_ will go down in herstory

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

After three years of campaigning for gender education in Ontario high schools, the Miss G__ Project is finally seeing some results.

The Miss G__ Project began in 2005, as the pet project of four Western students: Sarah Ghabrial, Sheetal Rawal, Dilina Mohan and Lara Sckordoff.

Since its inception, the organization aimed to convince the Ontario government to offer a gender studies course in its secondary school curriculum.

Although the girls have now graduated from Western, the quest for equality in education has not ended. After some intensive campaigning, Miss G__ has finally won the approval of Ontario’s Ministry of Education.

On Feb. 14, the group called, emailed and sent valentine postcards to Ontario Minister of Education Kathleen Wynne asking when the new course will be implemented.

“Since then, we’ve had some really productive meetings with the ministry, and they’ve confirmed a new directive to begin working on the course,” Ghabrial said. “It’s been an interesting couple of weeks.”

Wynne confirmed the province is in the process of writing and developing a gender and equity studies course, which will be offered as an optional class. She said the project would enter a testing stage as early as September of this year.

“I’m so impressed with the advocacy of the Miss G__ Project,” Wynne said. “I know they’ve been doing workshops in schools and we were able to give them some money to continue doing that work.”

But students eager to study gender and equality will have to wait.

“A new curriculum [will be] disseminated in 2010 [and] that’s when the women’s and gender studies course will be widely available,” Ghabrial said.

Renee Shave, a history teacher at Saunders Secondary School in London, teaches a high school level gender studies course.

“We’ve had an enormous amount of success with it,” she said, adding Saunders is the only high school in London to offer a gender-related course.

Shave said the male and female students in her class take away different, but valuable experiences.

“Many of the girls plan to take women’s studies courses after high school " I wanted to make sure they arrived with some necessary knowledge,” she said.

Male students, on the other hand, get to see two sides of the story: “Boys learn there has been a history of women being socialized in a certain way throughout history, but they also get to see men being socialized a certain way.”

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