I was honored when asked to be a part of 2018 MIMCO X OUR WATCH campaign. The core values of Our Watch and #BecauseWhy resonate with my personal ethos and parenting philosophy. I am feminist and I am raising my four boys as feminists – men who view women as their equal.  
The campaign is all about fostering positive personal identities and opportunities free from limiting stereotypes – for both girls and boys. By doing so, we are removing rigid gender roles and bias that when formed in early years can develop into unhealthy relationships. 

Research has consistently found that men who hold traditional, hierarchical views about gender roles and relationships are more likely to perpetrate violence against women. Given violence against women begins with inequality, disrespect and sexist attitudes, it’s our responsibility as parents to challenge the drivers that are deeply engrained in our culture and society, and encourage children to develop positive and respectful relationships. 

Our Watch is Australia’s primary prevention organistaion that drives nationwide change in the culture, behaviors and power imbalances that lead to violence against women and children. I’m proud to be partnering with this not-for-profit organisation which focus’ on stopping violence before its starts by challenging deeply ingrained attitudes, beliefs and distorted views that give rise to men’s violence against women.   

Why our role as parents is so vital

In order to teach gender equality, it must be demonstrated. Children are extremely receptive to what they see and hear around them, particularly when it comes from those they respect and admire most, their parents. It’s our responsibility as their first teachers and primary carer's to be the main driver in promoting gender equality. The odds are not always stacked in our favor, gendered expectations are placed on children from a very young age, in children’s literature, toy packaging or in their favourite TV program, but its how we respond and challenge these gender stereotypes that will lead to change.  

Here are some ways in which my husband and I
instill equality in our boys

•    Challenge rigid and restrictive gender stereotypes  - it may be a slogan on a tee, an assumption they’ve made or sexist remark.
•    Role model behavior we wish for them to adopt. This sometimes means stepping outside our own comfort zones.   
•    Encourage children to follow their passions and not to be restricted or conform to gender norms
•    Highlight male and female role models across all their interest areas  (particularly those succeeding in non traditional roles
•    Encourage open communication, the expression of feelings and good mental heath –praise social and emotional development    •    Undertake roles not traditionally viewed as mum’s job or dad’s job. Change things up! 
•    Focus on the similarities. We teach that men and women are both ‘humankind’ and capable of achieving whatever they put their minds to. Gender has no bearing or limits on greatness. 
•    Do discuss gender equality and how they might respond to witnessing inequality in the schoolyard. Give them tools and the confidence to challenge stereotypes and think critically.
•    Hold kids accountable for their actions – regardless of gender.