23 – Explore inequalities between rich and poor countries and also within countries.
Character cards, printed and cut out.
Large hall or room with space to walk around.
Often known as the “power walk” or “privilege walk”, this activity can be adapted to help young people understand inequality in different ways.
1. Distribute the ‘characters’ below to your group. Explain to the group that each person will be this character for the activity. Allow the participants to take a moment to imagine their character based on the information they have – age, colour, gender, etc and to imagine their education level, job/occupation, home etc. Their character lives in Ireland – preferably in their own community. Encourage participants to use their imagination when putting themselves into the situation of their character.
2. Ask participants to line up side by side at the bottom of the room. They can be a little bit squashed at this stage if room is tight. You will need a large clear space in front of them. Ask those who feel they can answer YES to any of the statements you will read out to take one step forward (they are answering for their own character). Those who answer NO or who DON’T KNOW remain in the same place.
3. Read out the statements below one at a time. See which character gets to the opposite end of the room first.
Some participants may be confused about entitlements of different groups such as refugees and asylum seekers. Be sure to familiarise yourself with those differences beforehand. The refugee should be some steps ahead of the asylum seeker. For more information on asylum seekers and refugees check out www.intercultural.ie. Alternatively ask the group to research anything they weren’t aware of.
NB: if your numbers are low and you aren't using all the characters, do make sure you use the law student or medical student as it creates the biggest contrast in who reaches the top first.
Participants should stay in the position they reached and discuss where they (their character) finished in the ‘race to the top’. Who finished first? Who was lagging behind? Why? What are the reasons for this? Participants should identify types of discrimination, such as personal, community-based, cultural, institutional etc.
Introduce the term ‘inequality’. Ask what is needed to make the various characters in the group equal, where they would all get to the top and in so doing they would achieve equality of outcome (rather than just equality of opportunity i.e. have the same chances). Ask what could be done in your own Unit or District to support someone to be more included and achieve their potential.
“Stepping Up” activity taken from National Youth Council of Ireland’s website.