8 March is International Women’s Day which means social media will be flooded for 24 hours with celebratory posts about the achievements and status of women.
Happy International Women’s Day
While those photos of excellent women and girls and all those memes are most certainly something to take note of, champion and share, the Day’s 2020 theme of ‘I am Generation Equality’ also provides the perfect excuse to take some action in our own homes too. After all, it’s a sad fact that women and girls are still facing significant discrimination and hardship across the globe.
So where better to continue the fight against this sort of treatment than in our own homes? With our own actions?
As the official International Women’s Day site explains: “Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.”
So let’s do that! #EachForEqual #IWD2020
How to model gender equality at home
Here are a few of the ways we can nurture equity between boys and girls (and men and women) from our own living rooms and kitchens.
1. Encourage kids to be themselves
Nurture your child’s nature and interests, whatever those may be.
If that means they want to play with toys that have traditionally been associated with a particular gender or wear colours or clothing that has sometimes been stereotyped, so be it.
We live in an age where we can push back against stereotypes and encourage children to simply be themselves, so let’s do that – and grow happier, healthier adults in the process!
2. Don’t gender stereotype ANYTHING
And while we’re talking about stereotypes, have a think about the ways you go about family life at your place. For instance, are there chores you are perhaps consciously or unconsciously delegating according to gender? Mix those up and share the load. Everyone can put the garbage out! Everyone can cook dinner! You get the picture.
Kids as young as three already notice and take on board sexist behaviour, so understand that little eyes are always watching and fight against this by modelling non-sexist behaviour.
Women in science image source by Elise Gravel: Level Playground
3. Mind your language
Sometimes we find ourselves falling into thoughtless stereotypical chatter. So shake those “boys will be boys” or “what a pretty little princess” type comments out of your vocabulary and dig a little deeper before you speak. (And send this story to relatives who may not be aware of how problematic this sort of talk can be!)
There are all sorts of ways we can talk about boys and girls focusing on their interests, kindness, curiosity, thoughtfulness and so much more. Talking about children as individuals and avoiding those old-fashioned defaults is the very best approach.
Promote gender equality in the classroom … and at home!
4. Talk it through
Have age-appropriate, curious and compassionate discussions with children about their strengths and how much they are capable of (especially if we all work hard to promote equality for everyone!) Go team!
“In a world where actions speak louder than words, it is not what you say but what you do that will shape your child’s gender expectations. Model and promote gender equality,” Dr Kimberley Norris senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Tasmania explains.
“They may not know what sexist behaviour is at four, but this way they’ll be less likely to demonstrate it at 14.”
You can find out more about kids and gender equality at Level Playground.
PS: Yes there is an International Men’s Day! But it’s not on March 8. We’re keen to talk about fighting the inequity women and girls face, as it’s an incredibly pressing issue.