Carla Fronteddu knows how we could start creating gender equality through adult education/ Photo:

From awareness paths to tailored training courses

Three quick ones. Lifelong learning and adult education can play a key role in creating gender equality through consciousness raising, empowering learning, knowledge building and skills development, says Carla Fronteddu.


1. How much are we aware of the influence of gender identity in our lives?

“This question must be the starting point of any effective gender mainstreaming training – to make the adults feel connected in the training sessions and to be more aware of themselves in a gender perspective.

The gender identity is a fluid concept which is in continuous change; it influences over our personal, professional and social life.

Only if I, as trainer, can understand the impact of the gender identity on my personal choices, I can train gender mainstreaming helping other to be aware of the mecha­nisms reproducing inequalities.

The understanding of the gender impact is a process of change and transfor­mation, it reveals deep concepts as fears, power, identity and empowerment.

Gender training relies on a modification of people’s self-perception, their way of relating to others, their beliefs, their problem-setting and solving skills, and their competence and knowledge.

Gender awareness is the best tool to start with. It means to create an understanding that there are socially determined differences between women and men based on learned behavior which affect access and resources”.

2. Can you do a practical example of that from your experience as adult trainer?

“During an adult course about gender mainstreaming, there was a long discussion between a 50+ woman and other trainees. She denied the link between social and cultural influence and gender identity development. She thought it is only a question of personal and conscious choices. This is a little example on, how difficult it can be to call in question your own identity.

As adult trainers we must be aware that adults have already gone through a gender development process and they are not always aware of this.

Still harder it is when the target group is heterogenic also including ethnic differences. For example, the last gender mainstreaming training course I had was organized by CIAPE – Italian Centre for Permanent Learning – last April in Rome,  .

There were participants from different countries – Germany, Italy, Poland, Greece, Brazil and more. In my opinion, this international context is enriching, and at the same time it makes it more difficult to transfer skills about construction of gender roles and stereotypes. There are very different interpretations of what a woman or a man or a transgender person should look like, be like or act like.

From my experience as trainer and gender expert, I have learned that it is in essential to diversify the training paths for different target groups, according to their training needs and starting from the skills they already have.

Teachers, trainers, educators and counselors are more interested in methodologies and practical tools to develop gender perspective into classrooms, courses, firms, etc. But lifelong learning project developers would like to know more about how to develop positive actions, interventions to remove discrimination again a specific target group; training evaluation paths, etc .

Let me quote “Good practice in gender mainstreaming”  from European Institute for Gender Equality about gen­der training courses: “They may aim to:

– develop participants’ self-awareness by engag­ing them in a transformative process (transformative or reflexivity training);

– improve participants’ conceptual knowledge by providing new intellectual tools to solve old problems with new views (knowledge-based training);

– teach people practical ways to use gender tools such as gender-impact assessments, procedures or indicators, etc (competence-based training).”

Obviously, these three types of gender training could be combined in different ways depending on objectives and target group. The challenge is to transfer knowledge and skills while caring about cultural and generational differences”.

3. How we can improve gender equality with adult education?

“Gender training is an important tool for gen­der mainstreaming since it builds capacities and provides people with awareness, knowledge and practical skills. At the same time, gender training motivates participants to implement gender mainstreaming and to work toward gender equality.

For this reason, I think that it is crucial, before the course or simultaneously, to organize information and counseling paths about gender equality. These actions could be very useful to create the right spirit in schools, firms, public bodies and at adult trainers and project developers.

In order to have effective gender training, it is very important to gen­erate political willingness from decision-makers to ensure sustainable application of the training material. Gender training should also be applied along with other tools within the implementation process of gender-equality policies and gender-mainstreaming strategies”.


Carla Fronteddu holds a PhD in Philosophy and a Master in Gender Equality and Diversity Management.

She currently teaches Gender as a Social Construct: redefining gender roles in Italian society and Communication and Global Competence for CEA- study abroad program in Florence.

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