By Fatimah and Sabri

We experienced many challenges and lessons throughout Project Stand Up and it continued as we started training PSU Champions. The goal of the training was to get PSU Champions confident about sharing ideas, challenging common misconceptions and inspiring them to make positive changes in the community. It would also build their confidence so they can help girls access and participate in education.

Project Stand Up is an initiative led by refugee students at Fugee School in Malaysia. The focus of the initiative is to break down barriers to education for girls and young women and to educate communities about gender equality.

For example, girls in the Somali community are expected to focus on tasks at home, whereas boys are focused on work and studies. Girls have fewer opportunities to access education because of what their community tells them. They are told that girls are meant to only stay at home, cook, clean and take care of their kids or younger siblings. These ideas have become norms and these norms have created barriers that make girls participate less in education. These girls then lose, or do not develop, their confidence.

The PSU Design Team came up with the idea of creating a champion model and an app to be used as a tool to break down gender barriers. The app contains tasks such as cooking, cleaning, translating and childcare, which are the competing responsibilities for girls and young women. The app is now at a stage where families in our community can use it to book champions to replace their children in the household responsibilities, which would otherwise prevent children from going to school.

The champions are young people between the ages of 18 and 25 and they are the ones who will help break down barriers. Our champion model is also meant to help empower girls and boys so girls can share their voices and fight for basic rights, such as continuing their education as well as sharing responsibilities between genders.

We designed a training workshop to demonstrate the types of issues the community faces in terms of gender inequality. The training would not only equip them with the skills to be a change agent, but also ensure they have the right skills to do the tasks confidently.

Each student member of Project Stand Up lead training sessions on a variety of topics, such as Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV), Powers, Articles, Activities, Role of Gender, and Self-disclosure of Male and Female roles. Before the sessions we each practiced our facilitating skills with our public speaking teacher.

Some of the sessions were challenging due to its sensitive nature. For example, the SGBV session was hard to deliver because we had to explain the different types of violence. We feared that our champions might not understand the main idea of the session and we also feared their reactions. They may have had firsthand experience of violence, or they may have never been exposed to talking about it. One member of Project Stand Up was uncomfortable with giving the SGBV talk to members of the opposite gender. We overcame this by going through the session in detail as a group to get everybody used to the topic.

We also faced other challenges while leading the workshops, such as dealing with champions who have a fixed mindset about gender equality due to the way they were raised. They were interested in being part of Project Stand Up but they still had their own beliefs regarding gender equality. Becoming a PSU champion requires a growth mindset, which is the belief that you are in control of your own ability to learn and improve.

We believe we overcame these challenges by working together and supporting each other. As someone on the PSU Design Team said: ‘I was able to do something that I couldn’t imagine doing’.

Project Stand Up has been developed by Teach 4 Refugees and the Fugee School in partnership with HOST International, and funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in partnership with MIKTA and the InnovationXchange.