An emphasis on respect

Sharon Kemp | Bendigo Weekly | 08-Dec-2017

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IT is not easy to measure the strategies to open our eyes to gender inequality.


But Women’s Health Loddon Mallee executive officer Tricia Currie is certain that once seen, gender inequality cannot be unseen.


She said that means working slowly but comprehensively to open people’s eyes to the imbalances in our community.


Much of the work has started in kindergarten and primary school.


At a Women’s Health lunch coinciding with the United Nation’s sixteen days of activism against gender-based violence this week, Peter Milich talked about his experience rolling out the respectful relationships program at Golden Square Primary School.


He said the campaign was well supported by the state government, including teaching resources and ready-to-teach curriculum.


It addresses assumptions made about gender stereotypes.


“For example, someone in the classroom asks for four strong boys to pick something up,” Mr Milich said.


He said teachers “were top of” the assumptions and the messages they contained, and were asked to teach the curriculum explicitly.


Ms Currie has another example.


She noted the trend of girls typically stopping by age 11 a lot of the physical activity they had engaged in when they were younger, while boys continued to run and throw.


What if girls, she asked, had worn shorts throughout their primary school years instead of skirts or dresses?


Sport is an easy field in which to find examples of gender differences.


Jessica Crofts, project officer with the Rural Challenge Project, has been organising the roll out to CFA brigades and country football and netball clubs in both the City of Greater Bendigo and the Macedon Ranges Shire Council areas.


The workshops ask executive-level volunteers to think about gender roles in their club.


The program targets these male dominated organisation because they are influential in rural centres and can carry the message to the broader community.


Ms Crofts said the program sought to encourage club executives to listen to women in the organisation.


She said the program also aimed to increase women’s participation.


The 16 days of activism ends on Saturday.

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