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close this bookIntegrating Girl Child Issues into Population Education - Volume 2 - Strategies and Sample Curriculum and Instructional Materials (PROAP - UNFPA, 1997, 134 p.)
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Chapter One: Strategies and guidelines


A. Why Integrate Girl Child Issues into Population Education

Education is a powerful instrument that can bring about changes in the attitude and prejudices that undermine the status of the girl child in the family, community and society. And population education is considered to be a very useful vehicle through which girl child issues can be conveyed appropriately and meaningfully.

Population education programmes have been introduced in the formal and non-formal education systems of many countries in the world for the past decade. They are introduced into the curriculum as either part of existing subjects such as civics, social studies, biology, science, mathematics, geography, home economics and others or as a separate subject at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Many of the existing population education programmes have integrated large sections on women's issues into their curriculum and activities but the girl child issues have yet to be addressed in a more systematic and formal manner.

Integrating girl child issues into population education can create many opportunities for the promotion of their objectives and messages. It can help eliminate sex stereotypes or gender bias and strengthen girls' self-image and esteem; eliminate all forms of discrimination against the girl child and the root causes of son preference; increase knowledge and understanding of the value of girl child; improve the welfare of the girl child, especially in regard to health, nutrition, education. There are many objectives in population education which relate suitably to the promotion of messages on the welfare of girl child. These include the following examples:

a) Promotion of family welfare, family size and quality of life

This is one of the major objectives of any population education programme in which family functions and responsibilities as well as the promotion of their quality of life are examined. It promotes responsible parenthood and explains that family welfare can be further enhanced if both parents as well as the children share the responsibilities of family life.

Most importantly, this objective focuses on the role of the family in giving equal treatment and opportunity for both sons and daughters and to promote the concept that both boys and girls are equally useful members of the family and society. This would help to ensure that girls are given equal access to nutrition, health care, education, and acquisition of skills; improve their self-esteem, their income earning potential, and empower them to control their own lives as future women. It emphasizes the current and potential contribution of the girl child towards family welfare, and increases awareness of their multiple burden of work which should be shared between boys and girls.

b) Develop an awareness of the advantages of delayed marriage

Population education creates a better understanding of the population dynamics, such as fertility, mortality, nuptiality, the positive impact of delayed marriage on fertility and health, and the need for a planned family. It also highlights various customs and traditions with regard to marriage, laws on marriage and socio-cultural beliefs that support early or delayed marriages. Population education brings into focus the close link between the physical and mental well-being of the girl child who is the woman of tomorrow, and the well-being of the family. Delaying marriage helps in achieving a small famiy size; in improving health of mother and child and developing emotional, physical and mental maturity. A girl who is educated, is likely to delay marriage and child birth, take better care of children, manage family finances better and have greater earning potential.

c) Re-orient population-related beliefs and values

Population education addresses attitudes, prejudices, customs and superstitions that perpetuate the low status of the girl child and the woman in family and society. It describes how different societies look at gender roles and discusses family customs and child rearing practices in the family as they affect gender role development. It covers values such as son preference; genital mutilation; promotion of lineage of family through sons; inheritance practices favourable to sons; traditional roles of members of the family; and under care of daughters in terms of nutrition, education and health.

d) Enhancement of gender equality and empowerment of women

Generally, population education carries a section on gender equity and empowerment of women in its curriculum. It examines the role and status of women in society and stresses on the need to enhance equal opportunities for women in all fields; equal participation of men and women in decision-making at the family and national levels and builds awareness of national policy on population and family planning, legislation on age at marriage, on gender discrimination in employment and wages and the legal rights of women. This section, though it discusses the status of women of the adult age, can be used to reflect more or less similar conditions that a girl child or adolescents are confronted with in the home, school and society.

e) Promotion of sexuality education among adolescents

Adolescent sexuality education covers issues which affect the well-being, self-awareness, sexuality and self-concept of the adolescents in order to develop them into responsible and contributing human beings in the improvement of society. It aims at developing responsible sexual behaviours, skills for being assertive and responding to negative persuasions; understanding what constitutes sexual abuse; preventing contracting STDs and HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancies; and delaying marriage. It includes sex education, changing roles of boys and girls as opposed to the traditional stereotypes, and gender equality in decision making both within the family and outside. Population education can be an effective way of building up self-esteem and self-reliance of the girl child. Through examples and role models, students can be made aware that girls and boys are born equal and girls have the ability to achieve as much as boys can. They can acquire technical skills and education as well as improve their income earning potential. They can grow up to be equal partners in decision making and assume control over their own lives.

B. Girl Child Contents That Can Be Integrated into Population Education

Based on the above-cited objectives, a wealth of relevant and suitable girl-child issues can be integrated into population education curriculum, both in the formal and non-formal educational systems. The table on page 11 will provide in detail as to what contents can be included.

In summary, the contents focus more on girl child issues rather than on women role and status and their empowerment. Extensive emphasis is placed on child rearing practices in the family and society; myths, gender stereotypes, prejudices and customs by culture and societies which undermine the worth and value of girl child and how to eliminate them; the value of both boys and girls in promoting the welfare of the family; and the multiple burden of work imposed on the girl child. The curriculum also reflects the promtoion of equal access of girls and boys to education, health, nutrition and care; strengthening girls' self-esteem and developing sexual responsibilities; girl-child marriages and how to develop values of delayed marriage. Many materials have also included lessons and readings on girl child abuse/violence and how to detect and eliminate them.

In determining the contents, the following factors should be taken into account:

a) relevance to national curriculum programme
b) supportive of national population programme goals
c) appropriateness to the population education objectives
d) suitability to the pupils' experiences and knowledge and grade level
e) attitudes of educational authorities and school culture
f) attitudes of parents and family social conventions

C. Guidelines for Developing Girl Child Curriculum into Population Education

In developing the conceptual structure of how girl child messages and contents can be integrated into a population education curriculum, the following guidelines can be followed:

Determine the objectives, goals and core messages of the national population programme.

When there is a specific policy statement on girl child issues, population education should articulate the issues in similar form and focus. When the issues have been referred to in more general terms, it may be necessary to identify specific issues consistent with the policy.

Majority of the national population programmes consist of reproductive health and family planning programmes, population and development and advocacy programmes. In all of these sub-programmes, women's issues and girl child concepts are invariably included. For example, in reproductive health programmes, the promotion of girl child's health, her role in the family and society, the adolescent's sexuality, and equal treatment of boys and girls etc. form part of its objectives and strategies. Population and development sub-programme also includes research studies which examine traditional values and norms with regard to son preference, value of daughters, socialization of family siblings, etc. Similarly, advocacy programmes are aimed at harnessing the effective role of education in addressing gender equity and promoting the welfare of girl child, both in the formal and non-formal education systems.

A careful examination of the objectives and contents of the sub-programmes will easily provide guidance as to what concepts and messages can be extracted or reinforced in order to be consistent with and supportive of the national goals and objectives vis-a-vis women, girl child and gender equity issues.

Examine the goals and contents of national educational curriculum pertaining to girl child issues.

More and more countries have taken formal strategies to correct gender stereotyping in their curriculum. More importantly, their ministries of education have taken various types of modalities to ensure more opportunities for girls to enroll and stay in schools longer. Invariably, national educational programmes will always include statements, official policies and strategies which will address girl-child concerns. Teacher training programmes have also integrated teaching methods and contents specific to these issues.

To harness support by educational authorities of the population education efforts to promote girl child issues as well as ensure consistencies of messages and contents, educational curriculum that deal with this important issue should serve as a framework for the preparation of the population education section on it. It will also make curriculum integration smoother and simpler.

Survey the requirements and characteristics of the target audience.

This step will help to determine the: (i) type of issues to be included; (ii) degree of details to be emphasized; (iii) the language and teaching technique/learning style to be employed; and (iv) materials to be used. A framework or matrix has to be prepared elaborating on what objectives and concepts are appropriate for each grade level. Certain issues will have to be considered at every grade or stage, the difference being a matter of scope and depth. As the target audience gains more maturity, certain issues to which they have been given an orientation can be considered more in depth. For example, at the lower primary level, opportunities should be given to both boys and girls to play games or toys that have been traditionally genderized. At the upper primary level or secondary level for some schools, home economics should be offered to both boys and girls and be given the opportunities to develop their knowledge, attitudes, and skills for doing household chores and sharing of family responsibilities.

A paper entitled. “Teaching gender issues: the necessity to commit teachers to issues of gender equity” (Samman, 1996) synthesizes some research findings which affect the student learning that should be considered in preparing girl-child curriculum contents and lessons. These include:

· The different identity formation and social expectations and construction of females and males in our societies produces emotional, cognitive and psychological differences.

· Students themselves bring gendered interpretations to their own success or failure.

· The different formative experiences for girls and boys in relation to parental care lead to gender differences and psychological makeup. For example, girl reaches adolescence with a developed sense of interpersonal responsibilities but possibly with a weak sense of personal identity and autonomy while the boy possesses the latter but has a kind of an inability to handle explicit expression of emotions and some insensitivity to other people's needs.

· Puberty provides a very different experience for boys and girls for many reasons and affect learning and interactions.

Below is a diagram that shows factors which influence girls’ performance and achievements (Samman, 1996).


Consider the local conditions, attitudes of parents and community conventions.

Some of the issues on girl child are universal. For example, the need to develop their self-esteem and to develop their knowledge and skills in schools can be considered universal. On the other hand, some issues and causative factors may differ between countries and communities. For example, in a country with high birth rate, low school enrolment rate for girls may be because they are needed at home to mind siblings; whereas, in a low birth rate country, the reasons may be different. Or in some countries, girls and boys are given equal treatment in terms of food, education and care in their families but in others, boys are paid more attention to than girls in these aspects. In many Asian countries, genital mutilation is not an issue but it is in African countries. These examples illustrate how important it is to look at local conditions, calling for curriculum developers to be sensitive to these conditions when preparing instructional and curriculum materials.

Sexuality education curriculum must be sensitive to local conditions, so that no offence is caused. For example, where discussions on sex related issues are not acceptable, inclusion of such issues in the curriculum should be discreet. For example, in some South Asian countries, dating and pre-marital sexual relationships may not be as widespread as it is in some South-East Asian countries. Emphasis on dating, love, sexual relationships, teen-age pregnancies, etc. should then be taken up more deeply in the curriculum of some East Asian countries than others.

Countries differ in socio-cultural values, therefore, education materials used effectively in one country may not be appropriate in another. A decision will have to be taken by the curriculum developers as to the extent to which sensitive issues might be approached and the best way of dealing with them.

The important thing is not only to know what are the messages that the school can transmit, but also “how these messages can interact with those which are conveyed from other sources” in the community.

Consider what is already integrated in the educational curriculum and focus on those related to population and development and reproductive health issues.

As mentioned above, for sure the national educational system has introduced girl child lessons and activities in its curriculum and textbooks. It is thus important to identify girl child issues already included in all the subject areas in both primary and secondary levels and ensure that girl child issues meant for inclusion in population education are given its population and reproductive health orientations. The more general concepts already treated in the other subjects should not be repeated as much as possible.

Specific Steps in Preparing the Girl-Child Curriculum

Generally, the following steps have served as standard package for preparing subjects for integration into existing curriculum:

1) Analysis of the situation

a) Review available publications, research studies and literature on girl child issues.

b) Consult with national level policy makers in the education and population programmes as to what girl child issues are relevant to their policies and goals.

c) Interview or consult with parents, local educational authorities and other civic and public groups on issues they wish to be treated on a priority basis and other problematic concerns that can be included in the educational programme or which may prove controversial.

d) Survey the needs and characteristics of target audience through a quantitative survey method, focus groups or other qualitative methods.

2) Formulation of curriculum objectives

Based on the goals of the population and reproductive health programmes, national education programme and results of surveys and interviews on the needs of target audiences, the objectives and goals can be formulated. Examples of objectives can be:

· To develop understanding and appreciation of the importance of the equality between boys and girls

· To develop and improve self-awareness, self-concept and self-esteem of the girl child

· To examine the myths, stereotypes and cultural prejudices which exist on male and female roles

· To understand that there are many good reasons for delaying sex until the girls and boys are older

3) Determining the content of girl child issues to be included in population education curriculum

The best way to determine the contents of the curriculum on girl child is to extract them from the objectives, the results of the needs of the target audiences, and the core messages of the national population programme. In respect of each objective, major issue or content, the sub-concepts, core messages and grade/level for which they are most suitable should be identified. For example:



1. To examine the myths, stereotypes and cultural prejudices which exist on and cultural prejudices which exist on male and female roles male and female roles

· Definition of sex and gender roles
· Examples of customs, adages and proverbs that stereotype gender roles and undermine girls
· Family and child rearing practices which do not contribute to the well-being of the girl child and how these can be changed

2. To develop good understanding and appreciation of the importance society of the equality

· Boys and girls are equally useful members of society
· examples showing how girls can achieve as much as boys, if not better
· Studies that show that rigid models of behaviours for boys and girls can limit people's talents and possibilities

4) Determining the entry points in the curriculum for the content of girl child issues

Since the girl child issues will form part and parcel of the population education curriculum, the contents have to be integrated or infused into existing population education subjects. This entails identifying entry points into which the girl child materials can be integrated. The first step is to undertake an inventory of major topics taken up in population education. From this inventory, identify those which are most suitable and appropriate for their integration. As identified earlier, these could be, for example, topics of family life education, human sexuality education, adolescent reproductive health, delayed marriage, gender equity, etc.

5) Identifying teaching methods and learning activities that will help achieve the objectives and goals

The level of maturity of the target audience will determine the type of learning activities, exercises and teaching/learning techniques which can be used for each lesson. Generally though, games, role playing, enquiry approach, values clarification and problem-solving methods will help achieve the objectives and goals.

Interactive and participatory methods of learning offer effective means for accomplishing real psychological and behavioural change. Such methods help students handle conflict and controversies and provide an opportunity to practice such skills as expressing one's self clearly, active listening, opinion forming and evaluating different view points. Certain pedagogy can even be designed for girls that will strengthen their self-esteem and belief in themselves and develop their will to succeed sufficiently.

Teachers should be trained. It is a fact that teachers' attitudes, expectations and way of interacting with the students, their preferences for teacher centred or pupil oriented teaching style, have a great influence on girls' participation and performance. According to the paper, “Teaching gender issues: the necessity to commit teachers to issues of gender equity” (Samman, 1996).

“The ideal of sex and gender equality does not preclude a separate pedagogy for each sex: the assumption we all make is that education is a gender-neutral process. However, due to the actual situation, in order to redress the present imbalance, and reach gender equity, girls should be taught differently from boys. It is necessary to identify approaches which tend to enhance girls' involvement, motivation and performance”.

6) Materials need to be pre tested and post tested, and revised before they are distributed to the recipients or target audiences

Because the concept and concerns of girl child could be controversial in some aspects, before the curriculum is finalized, it should be first pre-tested at three levels: the policy-makers and administrators; the school authorities and parents; and finally, the target users, e.g. teachers and students. Revisions can be undertaken to improve its understandability, readability, effectiveness and ease of teaching.

Integrating Girl Child Issues into Population Education Curriculum

Objectives and entry point

Core messages/sub-messages


I. Gender equality and gender roles

1) To examine the myths, stereotypes and cultural prejudices which exist on male and female roles

· Describe how different cultures/societies look at gender roles

· Examine and understand attitudes towards sex, men and women, and youth

· Identify and discuss gender roles in the family and society

· Discuss family customs and child rearing practices in the family as they affect gender role development

1) Gender stereotypes are generated by societies and are not inherent

2) Sex roles are differently defined and shaped by different societies

3) Myths, stereotypes, prejudices and customs undermine the worth of girl-child

4) Child-rearing practices in the family and society lead to neglect of girl child and should be changed to give equal importance to them as well

5) The elimination of stereo-typing is necessary to wipe out prejudices and daughters against girls

1) Definition of sex roles and culture and examples of customs and traditions, adages and proverbs that stereotype gender roles and undermine girls and examples of societies where traditional values do not undermine the girls

2) Comparing similarities and differences between boys and girls and doing away with the myth of exclusively male and females roles

3) Family and child-rearing practices which do not contribute to the well-being of girl child and how these can be changed

2) To develop understanding and appreciation of the importance of the equality between boys and girls

1) Sons and daughters are equal

2) Equal relationship between boys and girls encourage flexibility in patterns of behaviour, strengthens relationships, encourages cooperation and creativity.

3) Rigid models of behaviour for men and women limit people's possibilities

1) Cases which show boys and girls are equally useful members of the family and society and new ways that can be adopted for both sexes to interact so that their lives can be more harmonious, egalitarian, creative and enjoyable.

2) Example showing girls can achieve as much as boys

3) Cases showing girls are equally useful members of family and contributions of girls to family welfare and different professions

4) Changing roles of boys and girls and how they contribute to family and society's good

5) Different professions that girls can enter given access to education and training

6) Examples of women in well - appointed and successful positions and roles usually occupied by men

II. Enhancement of status of girls and women

1) To identify and examine values that affect the status of women and girls which discriminate against them

1) Some traditional values adversely affect the status of girls and women

1) Examples of customs, traditions and beliefs that perpetuate the low status of girls

2) Disadvantages of maintaining the low status of girls and women for the individuals, family and society

3) Lack of access to nutrition, health care, education and training

4) Traditional practices such as dowry and bride price that perpetuate low status of women

2) To understand the contribution of girls and women to family welfare and society

1) Multiple burden of work on the girl child discriminate against her and lead to poor health, poor education, etc.

2) Women work should be paid commensurately to reflect their worth

3) Self reliance among women and girls can improve their status

4) Men can share in the responsibilities in the house

5) Sharing responsibilities lead to easier workload, better quality of life, improvement of girls and family happiness

1) Equal treatment of female and male in socio-economic, political and cultural activities

2) Women and girls contribute greatly to family survival

3) Family chores that men can do in the house

4) Examples of cases where women's self-reliance and independence led to success and happiness

3) To understand the importance of girl's education for the improvement of herself, the family and society

1) Girls should have equal access to education

2) Education benefits girls

3) Girls' education is important and an asset to the family

4) Educated girls tend to stand up for their rights and fight exploitation

5) Educated women can look after the family better and their daughters tend to stay in school and finish education

6) Fewer girls than boys go to school, why?

1) Effects of education of self - esteem, literacy, numeracy and other skills '

2) Links between education and potential for getting paid employment

4) Educated girls and women can assume many roles efficiently (look after family business, manage accounts, market products, use new methods in farming, start a business, etc.)

5) Advantages to girls and women standing up for their rights

6) Advantages of an educated girl marrying, i.e., she can look after the children better, the family has better nutrition and health care, the family is planned, is an equal partner in all decisions in the family and the daughters of educated mother tend to stay longer in school

4) To develop awareness and appreciation of equal participation of men and women in decision-making at family, community and national level

1) Women who take part in decision-making in family, community and national level show positive results

1) Role of women in decision making in the family-situation showing positive results when women are involved in decision making and situation showing negative results when they are not

5) To develop equal opportunities for men and women in employment

1) Women should be encouraged to pursue a profession of their choice

2) Women should receive equal wages as men for the same work

1) Discrimination against women in some professions

2) Stereotyped professions and courses for girls

3) Discrimination against women in salary and wage scales

4) Ways and measures to eliminate or reduce discrimination against women in education and employment

6) To develop awareness of existing legislation regarding equal opportunity and non-discrimination

1) The state has given equal/ many rights to women and laws that protect girls

1) Familiarization of the laws that are relevant to gender equality-age at marriage, consent for marriage, non-discrimination in employment, wages, etc.

7) To understand that women's participation contributes significantly to national development

1) Women have achieved much and contributed considerably to the nation

1) Concept of national development and equal participation of women who have made important contributions to national development in different fields of national life

2) Examples of contributions that women can make in national life

II. Adolescent sexuality education and HIV/AIDS education

1) To develop and improve girl child's self-awareness, self-concept and self-esteem

1) The way girls feel about themselves influence what they do with their lives, how they relate to others and how they perform and achieve

2) Girls possess many good qualities and can perform or achieve as much as boys

1) Definition of self-esteem and self-concept

2) Ways and means by which girls can improve their self-esteem

3) Cases illustrating how girls can perform better if not equally with boys in various areas (education, leadership, community work, culture, politics, etc.)

2) To develop responsible sexual behaviour

* To understand that there are many good reasons for delaying sex until the girls and boys are older

1) Delaying sex until one is more responsible, older, married or when one is sure with a relationship with one person leads to no regrets and happier life

2) Delaying sex is not always easy but there are things that a person can do which will help delay sex

1) Reasons for delaying sex until one is older and married

2) Importance of making good and well-thought out decisions about sex

3) Hurried decisions to indulge in sex might lead to unwanted pregnancy and STDs/HIV/ AIDS

4) Guidelines to help girls delay sex

3) To develop skills for being assertive and to respond to negative persuasions

1) When you are assertive, you can say “no” without feeling quilty; disagree without becoming angry and ask for help when you need it

2) Learning how to respond to a person who tries to distract you or persuade you to do something that you do not want to do, is an important skill

1) Guidelines or steps in delivering assertive messages

2) Steps to take when a person distracts or persuades you and how to say “no”

4) To explain that sexual behaviour should be exercised with responsibility

1) Responsible sexual behaviour for a healthier and a happier life

1) Problems associated with uncontrolled/irresponsible behaviour (health, emotional, social, economic)

2) STDs/HIV/AIDS as a consequence of irresponsible sexual behaviour


5) To understand what sexual abuse constitutes and how to prevent it happening to girls

1) Girl child is often a victim of child sexual abuse and ways and means to prevent or address them

1) Ways and means of avoiding or dealing with pressures to have sex

2) Support groups or centres that can respond to complaints of sexual abuse and harrassments and laws that address these problems

IV. Delayed marriage

1) To examine certain beliefs, customs, traditions and laws which affect the age of marriage for women and men

1) Customs, traditions and laws affect the age at marriage

2) Laws to discourage early marriage should be passed and enforced, if already existing

1) Different societies and communities have different customs and traditions which encourage or discourage early marriages

2) National laws on age at marriage and their effects

3) Implementation of marriage laws

4) Need to maintain and encourage socio-cultural beliefs and laws supportive of delayed marriage

2) To develop an awareness of the advantages of delayed marriage

1) Delaying marriage has great advantages. It helps in achieving small family size, improve health of mother and child; develop emotional, physical and mental maturity

1) Advantages of delayed marriage; opportunity to get education; self-development; better health of mother and child; planned family.

2) Disadvantages of early marriage, early pregnancies, ill health, infant mortality, high fertility

3) Marriage against one's choice before attaining the legal age at marriage

4) Recommended age of marriage for men and women

5) Physical, mental and emotional maturity of both partners, better relationship between husband and wife and better parenting concept.

V. Population dynamics and family size

1) To discuss the roles, functions and needs of the family and understand that family size contributes to the welfare of the family and promotes better care of daughters

1) Families have functions and resources and its happiness depend on good relationships and roles of each member of the family and society

1) Family size and family welfare

2) Different members of the family

3) Roles and functions of the family (traditional roles, stereotyped roles for men and women and their changing roles)

4) Boys and girls need equal treatment by the parents

5) Family resources

3) Contribution of mothers and daughters to family resources

7) Child labour

2) To promote the concept of responsible parenthood and explain that family welfare can be further enhanced if both parents share the responsibilities of family life

1) Parents' role in the family is a shared responsibility of husband and wife

1) Concept of responsible parenthood

2) Family responsibilities (traditional roles of husband and wife in the discharge of responsibilities)

3) Exploitation of women due to multiple burdens in their traditional role

4) Sharing of responsibilities between husband and wife and effects on the whole family members

3) To realize that both sons and daughters have important role and place in the family

1) Boys and girls are equally useful members of the family and society

2) Equal treatment and opportunity for sons and daughters to help improve the quality of life of the family

1) Family planning: responsibility of both husband and wife

2) Prejudices against girls result in consequent neglect of them

3) Providing equal opportunities for education, health care and nutrition

4) To show how migration and urbanization have affected the status of women and girls

1) Migration of men to the cities may mean only a double burden for women left behind

2) Heavy migration of uneducated and unskilled women into the cities may result in economic and sexual exploitation

1) Statistics showing migration and urbanization disaggregated by sex

2) Reasons for migrating and good and bad effects on women and girls

3) Ways and means to solve the problems that migration could give to women