Overview: Participants identify discrimination experienced by women.

Time: 30 minutes.

Materials: Some forms of random selection (e.g., cards, slips of paper).


1. Divide participants into small groups. Ask half the groups to list 5 advantages and 5 disadvantages of being a woman. Ask the other half to do the same for men.

2. Ask each small group to report their lists. Record them on chart paper. Then ask the whole group to rate on a scale of 1-5 how important each item is to the life of an individual. For example, something trivial like "Wearing a certain kind of attractive clothing" might receive a 1 while "Not get as much food" might receive a 5.

3. Draw a line on the floor with chalk or outside on the ground. Explain that this is the starting line and ask everyone to put his or her toes on the line. Explain that all the participants are babies born on the same day, and according to the UDHR they are "born free and equal in dignity and rights." Then explain that unfortunately, some members of the community are not really "equal in rights and dignity." Ask each participant to draw a card indicating whether they are "male" or "female."

4. Then read one of the advantages for men that received a 5 rating (e.g., "Make more money") and ask everyone who is "male" to step forward 5 steps. Do the same for an advantage for women. Then read a disadvantage for men and ask the "males" to step backward the number of steps that the disadvantage was rated; then do the same for the "females."

5. Continue in this same manner through the advantages and disadvantages on the list. When a large gap has developed between the "males" and the "females," ask them to turn and face each other. Ask several individuals from each group:

How do you feel about your "position"?

What do you want to say to those in the other group?

How would you feel if you were in the other group?

6. Emphasize that this activity points out how cumulative discrimination works to erode the human rights principle of equality.

Variation: This activity can be adapted to illustrate any form of discrimination (e.g., against people with disabilities, minorities and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people).

Source: Nancy Flowers, National Training of Trainers for Human Rights Education, August 2000.