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Parents get new tools to challenge stereotypes

March 7, 2018 / Our Watch media team

A ground-breaking digital campaign aimed at helping parents challenge limiting gender stereotypes and promote equality when interacting with their children has today been launched.

Teal text on white background from cover of this resource reads 'Challenging gender stereotypes in the early years: The power of parents'

The #BecauseWhy campaign encourages parents to view stereotypes often expressed through language, activity choices and media portrayals from a child’s perspective and question why certain limitations are placed on boys and girls.

The campaign website – www.becausewhy.com.au – offers a collection of videos and resources to help parents identify and counter rigid stereotypes in their children’s daily lives.

The website’s opening text asks: “Because why should gender stereotypes limit our children?”

#BecauseWhy was researched and developed by Our Watch, a national not-for-profit established to prevent violence against women by promoting gender equality.

“Stereotypes are powerful. They affect the skills children develop, the knowledge they acquire, the way they see themselves, how they behave and how they react to certain situations,” said Our Watch Chair, NatashaStott-Despoja AM.

“Ultimately, they can affect the roles they take in society as adults,” she added.

“While stereotypes can be powerful, parents have immense power too. Research shows that parents have a positive effect on their children when they challenge gender stereotypes,” Ms Stott-Despoja said.

“Parents can provide a world of opportunity for their children by allowing them to explore a variety of interests, regardless of their sex,” she said.

The campaign was developed in response to research by Our Watch that found that although 79 per cent of parents would like to challenge the gender stereotypes that surround their young children, parents didn’t necessarily believe their own children (between zero-to-three-years-old) were influenced by them.

“The findings indicate that most parents value equality. So, Our Watch has developed practical information and resources to help parents challenge stereotypes and promote equality when interacting with their children and with each other,” Ms Stott Despoja said.

“Challenging stereotypes can be as simple as sharing the caregiving and housework equally, or making sure certain toys, skills or activities are not described as ‘only for boys’ or ‘just for girls’,” she added.

“These may seem like subtle changes, but they are incredibly important. We know that gender inequality is one of the main drivers of violence against women, and rigidly adhering to stereotypes perpetuates that inequality,” Ms Stott Despoja said.

“We have the power to free our children from this cycle and let them to create a world with respect and equality at its foundations. This campaign gives parents the tools to help their children build that world.”

The #BecauseWhy campaign was made possible through a partnership between Our Watch and Australian accessory brand, MIMCO.

For more information, visit becausewhy.com.au

Download a copy of the full research report here.