CFA celebrates '16 Days of Activism'
November 25 is International Day for the Elimination of Violence, and also marks the beginning of ‘The 16 days of Activism’.
The 16 days is a UN Women founded initiative that is supported by the Australian Federal Government, and covers International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November), International Women’s Human Rights Day (29 November), and International Human Rights Day (10 December).
It is recognised as a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.
Today we take a look at how the Rural Challenge Program is shaping the thinking of several brigades.
According to its website, the program aims to work with rural institutions to embed principles of gender equality, and help prevent violence against women.
CFA is certainly a rural institution, which made the partnership an obvious one. A number of brigades in the North West region have recently taken up the challenge, and while still early, it seems the initial results have been impressive.
Junortoun Fire Brigade
After taking part in the program, Junortoun identified the need to improve their facilities to be suitable for all members. As well as refurbishing the station’s kitchen, and giving a coat of paint for the station’s exterior, Junortoun’s members noticed one other thing that needed changing.
“Inside the brigade, there were no photos of our female members,” explains brigade Secretary Gloria Turner.
“This wasn’t the fault of anyone, it’s just that there were a lot of older photos.
“So we decided to take a few more, and now the photos that are on the walls reflect everyone that is in the brigade.
Gloria also noted that since completing the program, the brigade is more accessible for parents.
“A number of people in our brigade have babies, and kids under the age of 5.
“The parents are now bringing along their kids to meetings at the brigade, which would never have happened before.
“The program was great for that sort of thing, but also just to have discussions that you mightn’t usually have.”
Malmsbury Fire Brigade
Over the last few years Malmsbury Fire Brigade has been transforming towards becoming a station that reflects the diversity of its community.
Around 60% of the brigade is under the age of 54, and is 36% female.
Malmsbury Captain Tony Stephens recently won the Spirit of CFA Excellence award earlier this year for his work in gender equity.
“The work happening between District 2 and this program has been fantastic” Tony said recently.
“It gives brigades a real and tangible way to improve gender equality in their brigades, and define and sustain a positive culture.
“That not only benefits the members, but the community as a whole”.
As a result of the program, Strathfieldsaye Fire Brigade applied for and received a grant to produce a calendar celebrating the brigade’s 20th birthday.
The calendar, which is not far away from completion, features a number of images of brigade members, a focus on gender equality, community safety information and drawings from some local children.
Another initiative meant including women CFA members in all community communications, including visits to the local primary school (see below).