By Asja Alishpahic (YES 2017-2018, Bosnia and Herzegovina, hosted by AFS in Warren, NJ)
During the month of March, Denina Siljegovic (YES 2017-2018, hosted by AYUSA in Mesa, AZ) and I decided to dedicate the whole month to a series of projects about women's rights and position in society. Our first project was a workshop about women’s fight for equal rights for a group of third-graders from a school in Tuzla.
Working with third-graders can be tricky sometimes, but throwing in an aspect of creativity and games makes it a lot easier! Our main goal was to talk about the fight for gender equality in a way that was understandable for them and relatable to the community we live in. Major themes, issues, and historic events such as women fighting for equal education and employment opportunities were addressed through fun, engaging, age-appropriate activities and words from a few professors who agreed to share their knowledge and their personal experiences with the students.
We also had the children make "Role Model Medals" for women who are important to them. This part of the workshop was especially heartwarming as it showed how eager they were for their medal to be the best so they could give it to the woman/women who are making a difference in their lives.
Another project we did was an essay competition for high school students. The topic was “Women who changed the world.” Because our topic was very free and we allowed everyone to interpret it the way they wanted to, we ended up with 20 amazing essay submissions where students discussed topics ranging from the suffragette movement to women from the region who were pioneers in something to their own grandmothers, mothers, and sisters. Once we selected the best of the best, we organized an event of giving out certificates of participation and small gifts with the help of the American Corner in Tuzla. After the ceremonial part of the event, we showed the movie Seeing Allred, which examines American women's rights attorney Gloria Allred’s personal trauma and assesses both her wins and setbacks on high-profile cases regarding sexual violence allegations.
According to the feedback from both groups of participants, these events were successful. Both groups gained more insight into the equality movement and celebrated women’s achievements and contributions.