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Home About Because Why

About Because Why

About Because Why
Even before birth, and then continuing through childhood, different expectations are placed on boys and girls because of their gender. It happens through the gifts they're given, the clothes they wear, the language they hear and stories they're told.

These expectations shape children’s views of who they can be. And who they can’t be.

Gender stereotypes limit children’s opportunities and freedom to make their own choices.

Reinforcing gender stereotypes sets up a future where women and men continue to be seen as unequal, and we know that gender inequality that is a key driver of violence against women.

The good news is that families are in a powerful position to challenge the gender stereotypes that limit children’s potential and opportunities.

Our Watch research shows parents want their children, regardless of gender, to have equal access to opportunities. However, while parents want to challenge limiting gender stereotypes, many find it’s not always easy to recognise where and how these stereotypes affect children. 

To help parents with this, and to provide support and practical guidance in challenging stereotypes, Our Watch has created #BecauseWhy.
#BecauseWhy is for families who want children to learn, explore and develop all the skills they’re interested in without the limitations that come with gender stereotypes. While children see gender stereotypes all around them, research shows that parents and families are the most powerful influence of young children's understanding of gender. 

Families can encourage children to develop positive personal identities and respectful relationships that are not constrained by gender stereotypes. As parents, you can question and challenge stereotypical constructions of gender roles, masculinity and femininity, and support children to explore whatever their interest is regardless of rigid gender associations.

The tools and resources on this website are for all types of 'family' and for all adults who 'parent' a child. When we talk about ‘parents’ and ‘families’ we are referring to any adults who have the responsibility of bringing up or caring for a child or children. 

Parents and families come in many forms - they may be heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or gender diverse, be single parents, have biological children, adopted children, donor children, be kinship carers, have custody of children, be foster parents or step parents. No matter the form, #BecauseWhy is here to help you challenge gender stereotypes with the children in your life. Our Watch acknowledges that some of the research drawn upon in these resources has been conducted in the context of heterosexual families.    

Why it matters to preventing violence against women and children

Violence against women begins with inequality, disrespect and sexist attitudes. This is a national problem, and the drivers are deep in our culture and society. To change this requires prevention strategies that reach everyone in our community, and strategies that work to change the social norms that drive this violence.

Change the story is a framework for the prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia. It provides evidence that higher levels of violence against women are consistently associated with lower levels of gender equality. Change the Story makes it clear we can’t just focus on the violence itself; we must change the bigger story behind it.

Change the Story identifies that adherence to rigid and stereotypical constructions of masculinity and femininity is a key driver of violence against women.

Experiences in childhood have a particularly strong influence and can impact development and future life paths, and Change the Story identifies that traditional notions of parenthood, and particularly the gendered roles and identities associated with caring for children can exert a powerful influence on how new parents approach and negotiate parenting roles.

Why we're talking about it now

Our Watch established a partnership with MIMCO in March 2016, through which MIMCO is funding the research, development and implementation of this project.

This work complements Our Watch’s work with other settings and audiences including primary schools, secondary schools, workplaces, sporting clubs and young people.

With MIMCO’s funding support Our Watch has been able to undertake new research looking at gender stereotypes in early years. This has included a literature review, a survey of over 800 parents and the development of a discussion paper on early childhood and parenting.  

Based on the findings from this research Our Watch has developed online resources to help parents to identify limiting gender stereotypes and support them to challenge the limitations these place on their boys and girls.