Retrospect on the Deepening Training for Girl and Boy Group
Retrospect on the Deepening Training for Girl and Boy Group Leaders,
organized within the Project “Challenging Gender Roles for Prevention of
Trafficking” funded by the Central Baltic INTERREG IV A programme 20072013
Depkin’s Manor House of Ramava, Riga region
December 3–5, 2010
With the approach of the end of the year more and more girl and boy groups were
intensively started in several regions of Latvia. Before once again meeting trainer
Mia Hanström, 14 youth groups had been started, out of which eight girl groups and six
boy groups. However, the deepening training welcomed also those leaders who were still
planning to start a group at some point in the nearest future (they had informed the
potential group members and looked for the right location), thus two additional girl groups
and four potential boy groups could be added to the above mentioned number.
The first day of the training gathered girl group leaders. They started by drawing a
map of Latvia and pointing out the place where their group activity had started, as well as
by telling about their experience in recruiting group members, revealing also the number
of the members, their age and meetings that had already taken place. Thereafter the
leaders talked about their success or failure when informing group members. For some
this had been a very easy task ― they informed the children at the local school or youth
centre. The leaders agreed that the use of social networks and virtually addressing
unknown people is a failure, as it is very important to have a personal contact with the
young people when informing them. The potential group leaders had a possibility to learn
more from the existing leaders and get suggestions on discussion themes and activities,
which could best be used during the first meetings. During a group work the leaders tried
to understand how to restrict oneself and not be too talkative during the first informative
meeting with the girls (with young people of 13 and 15 years and grownups).
Further on group leaders had an opportunity to tell trainer Mia Hanström more
about their groups and the problems they have to face when working with girls. There
were various types of problems (difficulties with parents of the members, being late for
group meetings, etc.). Various methods were used to solve these problems ― an interview
type conversation between the leaders and the trainer (“The Aquarium” method),
discussions with the other group leaders who expressed their opinion on the specific
problem, as well as a walk with a friend ― a method to cultivate listening skills. This was
actually a walk with another person, during which each one of the pair had a chance to
talk with eyes shut for five minutes on his/her teenage years. This method can very well
be used in youth groups as well, when talking about other themes that are topical and of
an interest to girls.
The second day of the training welcomed also boy group leaders and the map of
Latvia was supplemented with other places in which group activities took place. Thus the
group leaders could get better acquainted with each other. Later on Mia Hanström
presented several methods, which could help start a discussion with the youth on gender
equality issues and make one think of the role of women and men in the society. After
having listened to a fairytale, the leaders talked about the main heroes’ ― the girl’s and
the boy’s ― lifestyle, interests and viewpoints by the society. The second method was
making a research of the mass media. The leaders had to count pictures on the first page,
in the commercials and in the articles of the newspapers and group those pictures in
group pictures and single-person pictures. Thereafter the pictures had to be divided in
categories, based on the fact whether it is a picture of a woman or a man. In addition
some stereotypical perceptions of men and women, e.g. the prince of one’s dreams or the
housewife, were chosen from all the pictures.
For the theoretical part of the training Mia Hanström once again told about the
seven suppression methods and their use in our mutual relations, but after that the
leaders were given a social role and they had to take part in a practical activity “A Step
Forward”. During the activity one person reads out a statement and each participant has
to choose, based on his/her role, whether he/she can perform the activity mentioned in
the statement. After finalizing the activity, it is possible to state, what representatives of
the society can move forward the most and which ones face restrictions in their lives.
At the end of the day the group leaders had an opportunity to make their own
evaluation activities (“Four Corners”, “Burning Chair”, “Stand in a Row”), by thinking of
statements that could very well start a discussion in a youth group (on family, relations,
the roles of girls and boys in the society), as well as discuss working with gender equality
issues in their respective youth groups. The ideas included watching a video or a film,
making a collage, doing evaluation activities and making a research on the mass media,
changing clothes and dressing up in the clothing of the opposite sex and even inviting
representatives of untraditional professions to group meetings.
The third day of the training gathered boy group leaders only, who, just like girl
group leaders, had a possibility to tell the trainer about their respective groups and discuss
problems that they have faced during the group meetings. In order to encourage potential
leaders and to talk of the activities used in group meetings, successful group work
examples were given. As the group leaders need to work very hard with helping the
members to open up, ideas for energetic activities were offered and some of them were
even tried out. The leaders suggested also several things that could help boys become
more certain about them and create a more pleasant group atmosphere.
Working with a boy group, particular attention must be paid to themes of
manliness, its disclosure and the society’s perception of manliness, therefore the leaders
concluded the training by contemplating on what it means to be a manly, an “ordinary”, an
over-manly and an unmanly man. They discussed also how the ideal of a man affects
those who are not very manly and named types of daily violence. It is important to talk
about these issues in boy groups, therefore the leaders reflected, whether all men practice
daily violence, whether this type of violence guarantees a special social status, how it
affects one’s daily life and what is the aim of such violence. It is very important to make
boys think of these issues when they are still teenagers, as such action would promote not
only the consummation of the Project aims, but hopefully also change the viewpoints of
the society in the future.
Picture No 1. Group leaders indicating the place of their group activity in the map of
Latvia, informing also on the number of the group members and the activities that had
taken place so far.
Picture No 2. Making a research on the mass media – looking for pictures of women and
men in groups and separately, as well as counting the pictures on the first page, in articles
and in commercials.
Picture No 3. Activity “A Step Forward” – a possibility to make a step forward, if the social
role that one has been assigned to lets him/her carry out the activity mentioned in the
Picture No 4. Ideas offered by group leaders for evaluation activity “Four Corners”. A real
family consists of 1) a mother, a father and children; 2) a mother and children; 3) a father
and children; 4) open corner (your suggestion)?
Picture No 5. A discussion on an effective group work.
Picture No 6. A discussion on what manly men are and what consequences those who are
not manly experience.
Picture No 7. Ideas for energetic activities. Mexican soccer.