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  • This blog is written by specialists from the Education Division of the Inter-American Development Bank. Its objective is to provide arguments and ideas that will spark debate about how to transform education in Latin America and the Caribbean. This blog is a call to action for the reader. An idea, a project, or a question can make a difference.

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    Las opiniones expresadas en este blog son las del autor y no necesariamente reflejan las opiniones del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, sus directivas, la Asamblea de Gobernadores o sus países miembros.

    The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank, its Management, its Board of Executive Directors or its member Governments.

    Glasses Off!

    By - 10 Jul 2015

    Have you ever wondered what would happen if, for a moment, we stopped seeing the world in pink and blue? Without limits or stereotypes? Many of us believe that we can all develop our full potential doing just that we love.

    For example, this Christmas a toy company pulled out a “non-sexist” Christmas catalog, where girls and boys appeared playing  with all kinds of toys indistinctly. In addition to the publicity in the press (the best advertising strategy!), a mother wrote:

    Hello, I am writing to you to give my support and congratulate you on the catalog that you released this Christmas. […] It is the first time that I see a picture of a boy playing with a stroller (and it’s pink!) and girls playing with cars, tools, etc. I want to thank you for this because it affects me personally. […] It might seem silly, but it’s not. For years I have been a victim of gender violence and I have two children aged 6 (twins) […]. I hope they have the least possible “macho” vision of the world. My children have played with strollers, kitchenettes, etc.  But they grow up  and live in this society… When they grab a catalog they skip the pink pages because are too “girly” and look for pages with more “macho” and aggressive toys. My kids like crafts, bead bracelets and gumdrops, houses with figures […], but they do not look at other options  because they are too pink. I hope the other companies learn from this. Your public is constantly growing, learning, and forming its habits… So, in other words: THANK YOU AND CONGRATULATIONS “.

    There has been a large number of videos and awareness campaigns against stereotypes and equality, as HeForShe, Let Toys Be Toys, Childhood Gender Roles In Adult Life, Let Girls Learn, and #LasNiñasPueden. Some of  them show with perfect simplicity the root of the problem and present young people, boys and girls, in an absolutely touching way: #LikeAGirl; Slap her are two wonderful examples.

    Some colleagues at the IDB realized that most of times this is a unilateral vision of the topic. We wanted to show that not only girls or women lose with gender stereotypes. Everyone does. That is, somehow, what this mother is saying in her message to the toy company.

    We also wanted to emphasize that many of these stereotypes are transmitted in school. For example, did you know that learning gaps between girls and boys are almost nonexistent when children enter school, but they continue to grow over the years? Did you know that, according to the results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Chilean and Colombian 15-year-old girls have lost on average, half of a school year in math compared with their male peers? Were you aware that the average Argentine or Uruguayan boy has missed almost an entire year of schooling in language vis-à-vis girls? Did you know that in some countries these differences do not exist or were reversed?

    That is why we decided to launch this campaign. Because schools are a key place for socialization. We aim at reaching girls and boys, teachers, parents, and the community. It’s not as difficult as it seems. Try it. When you choose a gift, when you think of casting people into stereotypes and make choices without giving them an opportunity to show their capabilities, when you give your opinion about their ways of dressing, when you think about yours and other’s future… Remember that the world is not only pink and blue: Take stereotyping glasses Off!

    If you want, tell us your experience and send a proposal of blog post to comunicacionesedu@iadb.org.

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