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Frequently asked questions

Why do the Rural Challenge Gender Equality Leadership Program?

The overall goal of the Program is to support sporting clubs and CFA brigades to develop and maintain an equal and respectful culture.

Gender equality has a number of different outcomes, and benefits both men and women. Gender equality ensures that men and women are valued and respected and not constrained by inequality, discrimination or sexism.

Each club and CFA brigade is different so each will have different reasons for wanting to do the Rural Challenge Gender Equality Leadership Program.

Some groups might have a goal of increasing the number of women in leadership or increasing the number of female members. For other groups, they will understand the importance of the local CFA or sports club as a hub of community and want to ensure that the organisation is as inclusive and welcoming as it can be.

For brigades, having an equal and inclusive culture can lead to more members which means your organisation will be more sustainable and viable and you can get your trucks out the door.

“We aim to be a gender inclusive and welcoming brigade, and promote inclusion and equality to the broader community.”               – Malmsbury CFA Brigade

“We aim to be a club with a culture of equality and respect.”           – Kyneton Football Netball Club

“We aim to reflect the diversity in our community and maintain an inclusive culture for all, and be leaders in promoting equality and inclusion.” - Junortoun CFA Brigade


What is a Gender Equality Action Plan?

A Gender Equality Action Plan is a tool developed by organisations to guide them in their goals of equality. It helps clubs and brigades to answer the question of “What practical actions support and lead to gender equality?”

The action plans are developed with input from the brigade or club’s leadership group and members, as well as sports, CFA and gender experts.

Some examples of actions include adding sanitary bins in all your women's toilets, or developing strategies to support women to move in to leadership roles. Gender Equality Action Plans will include actions that benefit men too. For example you may have an action to add a baby change facility in the men’s toilets as well as the women’s toilets.


What does gender inequality look like in clubs and brigades?

Both sports clubs and the CFA are traditionally male-dominated, and gender inequality is a local and state-wide problem. For example, in Macedon Ranges and Greater Bendigo there are 21 senior football-netball clubs and only one has a female president. Similarly, there are 49 CFA brigades and only one has a female captain.

However, the Program does not just focus on numbers – it focuses on inclusive cultures. While a Football-Netball Club may have equal numbers of men and women, their practices may not be fair and equal. For instance, the men's senior football team may get automatic use of the only club change rooms over the senior women's football team or women's netball team, without a discussion about how they can be shared fairly between the men and women. 

Gender inequality is often the result of organisations being arranged in ways that benefit one group of people, or incorrect assumptions being made about who uses the club or brigade.

In the first workshop of the Rural Challenge Gender Equality Leadership Program, the participants discuss gender inequality, barriers to women's participation in the CFA or sports clubs, unconscious bias, gender stereotypes and inclusive practices.


How many of our club or brigade members should participate in the Rural Challenge Gender Equality Leadership Program?

A minimum of 6 members of your club or brigade need to participate in the Program. There is no maximum of how many can participate. There needs to be strong support for the Program from leadership and some of the leadership team need to sign up to the workshops.

Men need to be involved in the program as well as women because not only will change benefit them, but they will need to help drive the change.


How does gender equality prevent violence against women?

Each week in Australia one woman is killed by a former or current partner. Violence against women in Australia is a prevalent and serious issue.

The Rural Challenge Gender Equality Leadership Program has been developed using the evidence base of OurWatch’s Change the Story. Change the Story uses the most recent national and international research and evidence to show that violence against women and their children is preventable. Countries with higher rates of gender equality have lower rates of violence against women.  This video will help you understand the link between violence against women and gender inequality. 

All of the actions in your club or brigade’s Gender Equality Action Plan will align with Change the Story's five actions that work to prevent violence against women. These are:

- Challenge the acceptance of violence against women in all its forms (for example verbal, emotional and physical)

- Promote women’s independence and decision making

- Challenge gender stereotypes and roles

- Strengthen positive, equal and respectful relationships

- Promote and normalise gender equality in public and private life

The above actions are also beneficial to men as we know that gender stereotypes have negative effects on men and limit their ability and potential, and strengthening positive, equal and respectful relationships will benefit everyone.

We all have a role to play in promoting gender equality and preventing violence against women.