Men in Bukonzo Joint, Uganda develop their indicators for gender equality in decision-making.

GALS facilitation

Gender transformation is an exciting process of self-empowerment and exploration, a process of breaking barriers that prevent men as well as women from achieving their full human potential. It is a key task of GALS facilitation is to inspire an excitement and enthusiasm for change. All GALS workshops and meetings aim to help people:

  • - vision how their lives, families and communities could be in a more gender equitable world
  • - identify achievable steps to change that they can implement immediately and also over the longer term
  • develop partipatory, listening and leadership skills
  • -build confidence and creativity in visual communication, songs and theatre
  • - form new friendship networks within which women and men treat each other as equal human beings.
  • - develop facilitation skills to become champions of change in their households and communities
  • In GALS common human rights and concepts of gender justice are progressively internalised as ‘natural’ through fun processes: drawing, songs and theatre. This then transforms perceptions of men as well as women, and inspires them to share what they have learned with others. As the basis for a sustainable movement for social justice, in which women's equal human rights are an integral and no longer questionned element.

Everyone is welcome - children can also participate.
For older people also, it is never to late to have dreams!

Facilitation Principles

GALS facilitation aims not only to teach diagram tools and skills, but to catalyse discussion, awareness and motivation ‘from within’ the participants themselves so that they own the change process and are able to facilitate themselves.

Key principles are:

  • - start with visions and the positive
  • - everyone can be a leader
  • - action from Day 1
  • - inclusion: everyone has a right to be listened to and respected
  • - facilitation from the back
  • - MAKE IT FUN!! or people will want to be paid to come back
  • In GALS the focus is on 'active learning'. Every session or meeting should include a range of different elements to make the meeting lively and participatory, and develop peer sharing and facilitation skills of participants. This includes:

    • Visual communication through drawing and diagrams that people themselves own and can show to others.
    • Interactive dramato question preconceptions and 'subvert' cultural stereotypes and practice new ways of behaviour.
    • Songs and Dances people will take back home and sing in the shower to reinforce change.
    • For the facilitator it means developing listening and observation skills to:

    • Facilitate from the back so by the end participants will be able to facilitate others when they get back home.
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Household coffee tree drawn by a champion from Vuasu, Tanzania. This shows the changes they think they themselves need to make in their own household to increase incomes from coffee with gender balance of benefits (vision symbols in the middle of the trunk) in:
- coffee production tecniques(left root and branch),
- re-investment from other activities (right root and branch) and
- gender relations in the household (middle root and branch) including jointland agreement and sharing productive and household tasks.

Visual communication

A key part of inspiring change is development of visual communication skills through drawing and diagramming. Drawing is not just ‘pretty pictures for illiterates’, but a way of clarifying and communicating very complex concepts in boardroom brainstorming of global companies and mindmapping and sketchnoting in higher education. Drawing is:

  • -a liberating activity: freeing thought from long wordy definitions and clarifying underlying assumptions and differences in understanding of complex concepts like empowerment and leadership
  • - a fun collective activity - bringing people together to explore ideas and clarify concepts, identify differences and reach some sort of consensus. The outputs can be extremely attractive murals and meaningful decoration in meeting places and workshops as a form of collective memory or training aid.
  • - a good way of promoting understanding between people with different levels of education - people who cannot read and write are often better at drawing concepts than those with higher levels of education. Also in multilingual contexts.
  • - a very powerful communication of ideas and images for gender change - it is very difficult for donors and policy makers to dismiss graphic pictures of dreams and also constraints like violence drawn by women and men in poor communities as 'feminist imperialism'.

GALS uses drawing and diagramming at all levels. The aim is not pretty pictures but sophisticated analysis of complex issues and identification of realisable change strategies. Participants create their own pictorial manuals and notes - not only reducing costs, but also making it more likely they will remember and implement what they have learned. Using drawings means that people who cannot read and write, as well as embattled CEOs of global companies and government officials, are able to put their experience and ideas on paper and communicate clearly to each other.

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Participant at catalyst workshop in Raa Tanzania shows other participants how to do the Vision Journey.

Participatory drama

Community theatre is commonly used as a means of gender awareness-raising. Role plays are also part of most gender capacity building and workshops. However, there are a range of interesting innovations in participatory drama which could be more fully incorporated for:

  • Capacity-building workshops
  • Multistakeholder negotiation
  • Monitoring and Evaluation and Impact Assessment
  • Dissemination

The aim of participatory drama is not polished theatre, but to directly engage participants in identifying and rehearsing changes, and new ways in which women and men can relate to each other, and new ways of addressing inequality.


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Participants at catalyst workshop in Illela Tanzania perform their new Gender Vision dance.

Songs and Dance

GALS participants develop new participatory songs and dances.Songs and drama are used to subvert existing cultural stereotypes, explore changes and experiment with different, new ways of doing things in future. As well as being enjoyable energisers, songs and dances reinforce gender messages and are a fun way of disseminating the methodology. The aim is that men and women should go away humming a Gender Balance Song, singing it in the shower or while working. In Vuasu they are registering their song themes as mobile phone ring tones.

Most sessions start and/or end with some culturally appropriate event such as a song or a dance which reinforces the basic philosophy and gender justice principles of the particular tool or issue that is the subject of that particular meeting. The aim is not a polished performance to raise awareness, but to directly engage participants in identifying and rehearsing changes. There are no professional actors or singers, no one leads and everyone participates.

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Participants at catalyst workshop in SMS Kenya share their visions.
Women in Upendo group, Mbinga Tanzania ask each other as they facilitate their first Gender Balance Tree.
Participant at catalyst workshop in Raa Tanzania shows other participants how to do the Vision Journey.

Facilitation process

In GALS, the best facilitation is ‘from the back’ where the facilitator empowers participants to express themselves. GALS facilitation skills are very different from those taught in many other 'facilitation' trainings, but the approach leads to more effective and sustainable change outcomes. Through encouraging participants to speak and asking a few pointed questions, good facilitation manages to arrive at a point where most of the important issues come from participants themselves. Participants are then in turn able to facilitate similar activities without external support when they go back home.

This requires practice and experience – and often a leap of faith to let things take their course – and is hard even for those trained in many other participatory awareness-raising and training techniques. It also requires intense observation of the participatory process, and use of some key techniques to increase participation

  • - Pairwise discussion:start each session/day with a participatory pairwise recapitulation of the previous session, or questions on perceptions and expectations of the meeting while others are arriving.
  • - Start from the back or with minority participants in all feedback (e.g. men first if they are poor and fewer in number) to show respect for those who are likely to be less confident and to promote inclusion.
  • - Group microphone introduce some sort of tool such as a stick or a banana to represent a microphone. It is only the person holding this tool who is allowed to talk.
  • - Applause and respect for everyone at all times through a culturally relevant show of appreciation following each presentation.
  • - No political correctness No one should feel they cannot ask questions or say things which they feel – provided this is done in a real spirit of wanting to understand and does not undermine the free expression of others.
  • - Make sure everyone has contributed: at the end of each stage anyone who has not spoken or drawn on the diagram must be given the ‘microphone’ or pen and encouraged to comment/draw on the diagram.

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