Advancing gender equality at every level: here's how you can help.
Gender equality requires every person, every community and every society to do their part.
We can only create change when we are in this together, acting on every level - from the individual level to interpersonal, community and societal levels.
This International Women’s Day, we want to know what you’re doing to advance gender equality – be that in big or small ways.
Share with us on Instagram and, if you’re not sure where to start, we’ve put together a list below of some starting ideas to help.
At the individual level
Get inquisitive on issues which affect women and gender-diverse people
It’s important to be curious and learn more about issues which affect women and gender diverse people. It’s on you to understand these issues and there is a wealth of resources available to help! We’ve put together a little guide below.
- To learn about different forms of violence against women and girls, click here.
- To learn about how social norms contribute to violence against women and girls, click here.
- To learn about sexual harassment, click here.
- To learn about the connection between everyday sexism, sexual harassment and gender-based violence, click here.
- To learn about issues that sexual assault survivors face in the criminal justice system, click here.
- To learn about how different communities experience family violence and what what we can do about it, click here.
- To read the Australian national framework for the prevention of violence against women and their children, click here.
- To read Victoria’s Gender Equality Act 2020, click here.
- To learn about violence against men and boys, click here.
- To learn about gender, identity and the transgender community, click here.
- For more great articles about gender, feminism, race and sexualities, go to https://everydayfeminism.com
Be aware of, and challenge, your unconscious bias
Everyone carries unconscious bias. Unconscious bias refers to a set of learned stereotypes, beliefs and attitudes, that may subconsciously affect the way you perceive or treat someone or something. To learn more about it, click here. Dismantling unconscious bias takes time and energy and requires you to be self-aware, thoughtful and analytical about the ways in which your unconscious bias shows. A great technique to help is to try to approach the way you view and experience the world with a gendered lens, which means that you consider gender in the ways you look, perceive and experience things. For example, If you’re hiring someone for your workplace, consider how their perceived gender may have influenced what attributes you associate with them and whether or not these are accurate. If you’re raising children, consider how you might be treating your daughter differently from your son, and how you could treat them equally. To learn more about how you can address your unconscious bias, click here.
There is no gender equality without all forms of equality. Intersectionality was first understood and coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw and in it’s most basic form, it refers to the idea that our experience of the world is influenced and informed by our multiple identities and how these intersect, across class, sexuality, ability, ethnicity, gender and more. Adopting an intersectional lens is vital when we talk about gender equality because not all women or gender diverse people experience the world in the same way. In order to truly tackle gender inequality, we have to acknowledge, examine and tackle other forms of discrimination and oppression - such as racism and ableism, amongst many others. And we cannot do that if we don’t always keep intersectionality front of mind, and consider how different people experience gender inequality and how we might address that. To learn more, read this article.
Acknowledge privilege in conversations around gender equality
Privilege is a bit of a buzzword and can be difficult for some people to talk about. But if we unpack it a little further, it’s a simple concept and a conversation that we all need to be having with ourselves and those around us. There are many kinds of privilege that you may have that intersect and overlap. This may be your financial background, education, whiteness, gender, sexuality, etc. What the concept of privilege means is that you have an unearned advantage in comparison to others, based on prejudice. It is not about how difficult or easy your life has been, but what kinds of things have come unearned to you simply because you are, for example, able-bodied or heterosexual, or because you’ve got a university degree. A great article which explains this concept well can be read here.
Engage with, and consume content from, diverse perspectives
One of the best ways to understand an issue is to hear from multiple perspectives that are diverse and have an intersectional approach. If you consider the films, podcasts, TV series, news articles, books, and more, that you consume on a regular base, how diverse are the perspectives you’re consuming? Who is writing/creating/contributing to those? And how you could you broaden those to be more diverse?
Watch films and media directed/led/written by women and gender-diverse people
Following on from the above point, supporting films and media created by women and gender diverse people is vital to support and drive better representation on our screens. The media we consume both reflects and informs our reality, so showing, and celebrating, narratives that explore different perspectives, including women in positions of leadership is key to changing harmful and limiting gender norms and attitudes.
To learn more about how women are represented in film, take a look at the Bechdel Test. For a comprehensive guide on which films feature actors/creators, accused of sexual assault (and more importantly, which don’t) check out Rotten Apples.
At the interpersonal level
Educate yourself and share that knowledge with others
International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to learn more about the issue of gender inequality and the devastating impact it can have. Sharing the knowledge you’ve learned with others is a wonderful way to create change and an easy way to be an activist. If you feel comfortable, use social media to start a conversation or simply share articles, books and podcasts with your friends!
Shut down sexist remarks
If you hear someone make a sexist comment or “joke”, shut it down. The normalisation of these kinds of comments supports gender inequality, which in turn, drives violence against women. Let people know that this behaviour isn’t okay. One of our favourite ways to do this is to ask the person to explain what they meant. Further reading here.
Be inclusive of gender-diverse folk
Achieving gender equality means supporting people of ALL genders. Think about the conversations you’re having, the activism you’re involved with and the language you use when talking about these issues – are they inclusive of gender-diverse folk? Have a look at our Instagram for examples of inclusive language.
Start a conversation with the men and boys in your life
Gender inequality is not a women’s issue – it’s an issue that requires everyone to work to create a safe and equal world. Starting a conversation is the first step – and encouraging men to have these conversations without women and girls present can be important too. In what ways are men contributing to the space? In what ways could they contribute more?
Challenge gendered stereotypes with the children in your life
Harmful gendered stereotypes are imprinted on children as young as four years of age. Breaking down gender roles and encouraging gender equality is important from a young age. Start with the toys they play with – children should be encouraged to play with whatever toys they like without attributing gender to them (i.e. trucks are not just for boys and tutu dress ups are not just for girls).
When shopping for clothes, try to buy gender-neutral clothing or clothes with bold and positive messages that don’t reinforce gender roles (i.e. avoid the “daddy’s little princess” tee shirts). Encourage all children to play sports – your boy should feel supported to take up ballet if he wishes, and your girl encouraged to play team sports. Use the right terminology with children – from body parts, to how you praise them, be clear and gender-neutral where possible.
Be a role model for the children in your life – treat all people equally, try to avoid gendered stereotypes and share household duties. At the end of the day, just encourage children to be themselves. Support their curiosities, talents and desires, and be open and honest with them. To learn more about how to raise children without gender roles, click here.
Share the mental and domestic workload
Historically and culturally, the mental and domestic workload is a gendered burden which often goes unpaid, contributing towards the gendered wage gap. By sharing the workload equally between all adult household members, you’re helping to create a more equal world. Think about who does the majority of the domestic workload in your home? And consider the mental load that goes with that (e.g. shopping lists, birthday reminders, tasks and to do lists, etc) - how can you approach this more equally in your home and relationships?
At the community level
Provide equal pay in the workplace
The Australian full-time gender pay gap is, on average, 13.9% with women earning, on average, $242.90 less per week than men. However, in some instances the gender pay gap is as high as 22.3%. Find out more here. By providing equal wages for equal work, you are contributing to a more equal world where the wage gap doesn’t exist.
Support systems that support women and gender-diverse folk
Support organisations and systems that actively employ, upskill, support, encourage and celebrate women and gender-diverse folk. Consider what organisations or systems currently do this and how others might step up.
Advocate for accessible spaces
We need accessible spaces everywhere for equality to be achieved. When hiring a space, creating a workspace, building an online space and so on, think about who can access it. Prioritise accessibility for people with disabilities and think about how you can make these spaces not only inclusive but welcoming.
Have a zero-tolerance to sexual harassment, racism and bullying in the workplace
Implement policies and frameworks which have zero tolerance to sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia and bullying in the workplace. Encourage a culture where everyone feels safe, supported and empowered - this is one where everyone benefits.
Support and donate to women-led organisations and brands
When we support women-led organisations, we are supporting women in leadership and the financial independence of women. Both of these outcomes are contributing factors to reducing rates of violence against women.
Encourage your workplace to implement a gender equality framework
Does your workplace have a gender equality framework? If not, advocate for one! Applying a gender lens to the work that you do is a vital part of achieving gender equality. Every workplace has a role to play.
Amplify voices from marginalised communities
We need more voices from marginalised communities being heard, listened to and acted upon. Use your power, privilege and position to advocate for the inclusion and amplification of these voices and demand organisations and government bodies do the same.
Upskill your employees with unconscious bias and cultural sensitivity training
As we explored above, we all operate with unconscious bias. One of the best ways to ensure that your workplace is addressing this unconscious bias and not allowing it to limit the potential of others, or create an unequal culture, is by providing training for employees.
At the societal level
Vote for women and leaders who take action to advance gender equality
If we want to see true policy change that advocates for, and implements action plans to achieve, gender equality, we have to vote for leaders who will drive this. Currently in Australia, only 34.3% of our governing body is women. Next time there is an election, consider supporting women and gender diverse representatives from different backgrounds. Vote for leaders who acknowledge gender inequality and are actively working to end it. Before election time, check out EMILY’s List, or other organisations that support female candidates.
Lobby for better laws to advance gender equality
We need laws that protect women and gender-diverse folk from discrimination. Laws that support and uphold gender equality. Write to your local members today asking them what they’re doing to advance gender equality and tell them why this matters to you.
Push for media to be held accountable in their reporting of violence against women
When reporting on violence against women, the media often uses language which amplifies gender inequality and encourages victim-blaming, while minimising the perpetrator’s accountability and, more broadly, men’s gendered violence. The media must be held accountable and be adequately trained to report on these issues with a gender-equal lens. Contact media outlets and tell them why it’s necessary for them to make a change now.
Don’t just push for diversity – advocate for belonging
Diversity in leadership, workplaces and all levels of society is important, however embracing diversity isn’t simply a case of hiring people from marginalised communities and expecting them to assimilate in spaces often built for white, heterosexual, able-bodied people. We need to dismantle the spaces that have been created and rebuild new spaces that are founded on a culture of belonging. Think about the ways in which ‘diversity’ is approached in your workplace, school, learning institution or elsewhere – how are diverse people supported? Is there a culture of belonging? And how can you advocate to change that?
Together, we can achieve gender equality.