Being naturally curious, we always seek to find inspiration through understanding underlying views and perceptions and exploring ideas that could emerge from individuals that we work closely with and involve in our process. To build on this, the Accelerator Lab team in Jordan invited 11 male and female participants from the Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) to take part in an online ideation session to spark conversations and explore participants’ perceptions around gender norms and roles in Jordan.
The session was designed to inspire the design of the messaging of our online Twitter campaign #our_home_our_responsibility, بيتنا_مسؤوليتنا# , which aims to start conversations around gender roles in the household, and to encourage more men to participate in household work and care duties.
We understand that it could be difficult to expect participants to find that ‘one’ right idea or to instantly come up with creative hashtags, particularly given the sensitive nature of the topic in the Jordanian context. Accordingly, we designed a series of probing questions to enable the group to comfortably share their views, experiences and ideas with the team, whilst sharing with them the Accelerator Lab’s way of thinking. We weren’t exactly sure what the outcome of such a session would be, but we were curious enough to try.
To introduce our campaign concept which emerged during the lockdown period, we kickstarted the session by asking participants to share with us skills, activities and habits that they’ve adopted during the lockdown, as shown in the word cloud. The exercise enabled us to communicate to the team how essential it is to explore the emerging patterns that we observe in ourselves and our surroundings, as ‘sensing’ shifts may lead to valuable insights about our behaviors, which we may choose to develop, sustain or alter.
Asking open-ended questions
We then zoomed in on the topic of the session by asking participants to define ‘masculinity’ and referred to their responses as a starting point to lead the rest of the session.
As shared by one of the participants,“ I enjoyed the fact that we were able to openly discuss the topic of masculinity in the session, and that we had a common goal of understanding the words and actions that define positive masculinity”. - Omar Al-Qtaishat, 18, YLP participant.
Exploring actions and behaviors related to masculinity led to a critical discussion around the factors that may contribute to some men being resistant to performing and sustaining certain roles and values. What emerged from the different viewpoints is that many of the governing behaviors and roles that men choose to perform in their homes, workplace, and communities are shaped by their immediate surroundings from early childhood. This highlighted the key role that families play in promoting gender equality, and in building the awareness of their children about fixed gender stereotypes that may develop in the future to extreme behaviors such as superiority and absolute authority.
One of the participants reflected on the partnership between the genders at home , saying that “The session drew my attention on the emphasis of normalizing both gender roles, by making it about sharing, cooperating and assisting one another, particularly at home.” Ahlam Said, 23, YLP participant
Re-thinking long standing traditions
To critically reflect on the values that we carry from previous generations, we asked participants to share proverbs and sayings that they’ve heard about masculinity while growing up from their family, friends, media, etc. Many of the responses left me wondering about the relevance and reality of these proverbs today, which prompted me to ask the team to reframe some proverbs into positive statements, as a means to identify the desired behaviors and roles that young people would like to encourage receivers of the campaign to adopt and sustain.
Generating hashtags from takeaways
To sum-up the session, we asked participants to summarize the takeaways from the session. Refer to the word cloud below.
This preceded the final exercise, where the group had to come up with memorable hashtags that made reference to the campaign and that use a positive framing where possible. With this in mind, we were able to shortlist a few Arabic gender-neutral and gender-focused hashtags for the team to use as a source of inspiration for the messaging:
Overall, tapping into the creativity and energy of the youth provided us with a quick and simple approach to generate meaningful insights for our campaign messaging. The session has not only highlighted the importance of continuing to see the youth as partners in the creation of positive change, but also the value of seeking out different and opposing perspectives when addressing and targeting complex issues like gender and societal barriers, which requires a cooperative and open mindset. Perhaps most importantly, the session taught us that even the most contentious topics can be explored effectively using the appropriate tools and with the right amount of respect.
# ما_نقصت_رجولتي (It doesn't make me less of a man)
# الرجولة_بكل_تصرف (Masculinity in every action)
# الرجولة_بالمسؤولية (Masculinity through responsibility)