Stellenbosch University (SU)'s first gender detour project recently commenced on the Stellenbosch campus.
During her visit to South Africa late last year, the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, announced that an Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) gender grant had been awarded to three South African universities.
The recipients were SU along with the Universities of Johannesburg and the Western Cape. SU received the ACU gender grant for its proposed Gender Detour project, which was officially launched on 8 October 2020.
The Gender Detour project involves a group of volunteer participants going on a walk around central Stellenbosch, and having conversations about the role of gender in campus culture, emotional and physical safety, health, social life, leadership, achievement and the future workplace.
According to Monica du Toit, ResEd group coordinator at SU's Centre for Student Communities, the grant has motivated them not to underestimate experiential learning and new ideas.
“This is a very small grant and a small project but the fact that our ideas received traction and support really motivated us."
So far, a group of 15 students and staff has been involved in shaping the route and discussion of the first two walks. Members of SU's Centre for Student Communities, along with some positional and non-positional leaders, will also help to facilitate these walks going forward.
Du Toit said the first detour allowed organisers to see how the project played out and what can be improved in the following walks. She believes that this activity would be of great value if it is not done in large groups but rather smaller groups of five to eight people.
“This will give us time to first reach students and staff who are on campus and allows for safety and social distancing. This will remain a small group activity for welcoming and with senior students and the aim is not reach masses at once but to stimulate connected conversations," says Du Toit.
There are also plans to create a short clip with voice notes and footage from students to help capture some of the feedback from participants.
The detour will take the form of a series of guided weekly walks every Tuesday afternoon until 8 December. They have a core group of students and staff to facilitate walks on their own from 2021.
For more information about the Gender Detour project, contact Monica du Toit at firstname.lastname@example.org.