One Family Ambassador and rising recording artist Harris J paid a surprise visit to school children in Sri Lanka, where he participated in a special lesson to discuss the importance of gender equality
The lesson forms part of a 30-week programme, designed to change mindsets, attitudes, and behaviours in the early years of learning. As well as engaging children in a collaborative performance of some of his best-known songs, Harris reflected on what gender equality means to him and the negative impact gender-based discrimination has on the society around us.
Founded by filmmaker turned human rights champion and social entrepreneur, Leslee Udwin, Think Equal is global initiative was born out of her journey making the documentary, India’s Daughter, which sparked a global movement to end violence against women and girls. The film is based on the brutal gang rape of a medical student on a moving bus in Delhi. Through 31 hours of interviews with the perpetrators of this brutal crime, it became abundantly clear that the root cause of this violence was socio-cultural programming of inequality which ascribes lesser value and different rules to the other gender.
“Understanding that all inequalities, racial, religious, ethnic or any other, spring from this root cause means the only way to change the discriminatory mindset is through education,” says Leslie.
The programme is currently piloting in schools across Argentina, Botswana, Canada, Kenya, India, Singapore, and Sri Lanka, where it is being evaluated by the Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence.
Reflecting on the lesson, Harris said the methods teachers used to deliver Think Equal’s powerful syllabus on gender equality impressed him most, “in fact, I’ve never seen anything that has engaged children so young when it comes to talking about such important issues. It filled me with hope to see how strongly the children internalised the positive messages we discussed during the lesson.”