Each year, the United Nations calls for an end to violence against women and girls. In support of Women’s Health in the North (WHIN), we’ve joined an international campaign to speak out against gender-based violence and challenge the attitudes that allow it to continue. Will you join us?
We’ve summarised 16 things you can do from WHIN’s 16 Actions for 16 Days Toolkit. If you’re ready to spread the word, speak out and shift the culture, pick an action to take today.
1. Relearn global herstory and research ‘women who changed the world’
Whose stories get told in history? Whose don’t? History determines which contributions are valued and shared across generations. Read our interview with La Trobe historian Dr Clare Wright about the importance of acknowledging women’s role in Australian history.
2. Learn what victim-blaming is and how to recognise it
Questions like ‘What was she wearing?’ imply that a female victim of crime is in some way responsible for what has happened to her. By blaming women for their actions, we fail to hold men to account for theirs. Watch this short clip to explore the concept of victim blaming.
3. Learn what patriarchy is and practise explaining it to someone else
WHIN defines patriarchy as ‘a social system that places men in a position of greater power to women’. Read this article by American author, feminist and social activist bell hooks to learn how patriarchy maintains male dominance and enables violence against women.
4. Learn about gender, power and sexual consent
Consensual sex means both people are of legal age, agree to sex and have made that choice without fear, coercion, force or intimidation. It also means they’re free to change their mind at any time. Watch this short video to understand the concept of consent.
5. Don’t laugh at sexist jokes or comments and speak up against them if you can
Many people shrug off sexist or inappropriate comments as ‘just a joke’. But if that joke disrespects or degrades women, then it’s contributing to a culture that says it’s okay to belittle them. Download the Pyramid Poster to remind yourself that sexist jokes are a foundation of violence.
6. Explore why we have a gender pay gap and talk with others about it at work
The gender pay gap indicates the level of gender inequality that still exists in our community. According to the 2016-17 Gender Equality Scorecard, women take home an average annual pay packet that’s $26,527 less than men. It’s time to ask: what are you being paid, and why?
7. Learn to recognise gender stereotypes in the media and talk with others about it
From ‘pink is a feminine colour’ to ‘boys don’t cry’, stereotyped ideas about how men and women should behave are reinforced by society, especially through the media. Read this article to understand the role and impact of gender stereotypes portrayed by the media.
8. Encourage the children in your life to play with any toy they like, regardless of gender stereotypes
Promoting positive gender norms in early childhood creates a base for children to develop ideas about gender and learn about equal, respectful relationships. Watch this short BBC clip to learn about the influence of ‘boy’s toys’ and ‘girl’s toys’.
9. Encourage the men in your life to talk to each other about their feelings and emotions
When boys are told to ‘man up’ and suppress their feelings, there are long-term negative effects on their health and relationships. Watch this call to men by author, educator and activist Tony Porter, who urges men to break out of what he calls society’s ‘man box’.
10. Recognise how violence against women is also a men’s issue and discuss this with men in your life
11. Talk to a man in your life about the pressures of being a ‘real man’ and how it impacts on relationships with others
Narrow ideas about what it means to be a ‘real man’ perpetuate male dominance and impact all relationships. Watch the trailer for The Mask You Live In, a documentary that explores what happens when men and boys negotiate a narrow definition of masculinity.
12. Shift the conversation from what she looks like, to who she is and what she has achieved
Women and girls are taught to be valued for their appearance, at the expense of their achievements. Be inspired by the Ask Her More campaign, which calls out sexist reporting and suggests ways to re-focus on women’s achievements.
13. Reflect on the division of labour in your household: is it fair?
Women still undertake most of the work around the home. What’s it like where you live? This cartoon by French artist Emma illustrates the invisible ‘mental load’ women are expected to bear in managing household chores.
14. Don’t fund sexism: don’t buy media or products that portray women in a degrading or violent manner
Content that objectifies women promotes sexist attitudes and gender stereotyping. Use this five-point test to spot sexual objectification and avoid magazines, movies or video games that portray women in degrading or violent ways.
15. Call it out when a woman is interrupted or spoken over
When women’s voices are silenced, ignored or minimised, women are undervalued. Encourage women to offer their thoughts, ideas or opinions in meetings and conversations – and pay attention to what they say. Read this article to explore why women stay quiet at work.
16. Advocate against violence and gender inequality by spreading awareness on your social media and beyond
The more you speak out and stand up for gender equality, the more your message becomes the norm. Get informed with key facts and figures, then choose the medium for your message. You might post to social media, write an article for your university magazine, or display posters around campus.
Everyone has a role to play in ending violence against women. Take the time to learn, educate, communicate and challenge yourself, your colleagues and your family, and support us in helping to eliminate violence against women.
Discover how La Trobe University’s Violence Against Women Research Network is reducing violence against women and children through innovative research.