Affordable Housing, Affordable Shopping

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Amanda Hess has a fascinating post up at TBD, about two D.C. children (who are affiliated with Lifting Voices, a non-profit) who met with Councilmember Michael A. Brown to share their thoughts on gender roles. Jahisua is 14; he is a Freshman in high school. Shalayla is 11 and she’s in sixth grade at a charter school:

“A man’s role in the neighborhood is to be a provider,” Jahisua told Brown. To Jahisua, that role includes supporting “a home, a job, a relationship with his child’s mother, and an education.” In order to fulfill that role, Jahisua said, the government needed to support men with programs like affordable housing, couple’s counseling, anger management classes, job training, and financial literacy.

But women must conform to different expectations, the students told the councilmember. “Part of a woman’s role is having self-confidence to make good decisions, so she’s not pressured to do bad things, like be immodest,” Shalayala said. “She needs someone to look up to.” In order to support women, Shalayla told Brown, “one thing we need to help women be self-confident is affordable shopping, so she doesn’t spend too much on clothes and so she can afford clothes to cover up well, to not be taken advantage of.” Women could also use motivational speakers, job training classes, and community activities “so they have something to do at different times,” Shalayla said.

Jahisua and Shalayla’s takes on gender were the result of “reflection, interviews with adults, and talks with peers”.