Tuesday 7 March 2017

Female Pedestrian Crossing Lights Stir Debate In Australia


Melbourne has installed "female" traffic signals as part of a gender equality campaign to combat "unconscious bias".

Ten pedestrian figures dressed in skirts were being installed on traffic lights in the Australian city on Tuesday, a day before International Women’s Day.

The 12-month trial was organised by the Committee for Melbourne, a non-profit organisation comprising more than 120 Melbourne business and community groups.

"The idea is to install traffic lights with female representation, as well as male representation, to help reduce unconscious bias," Chief executive Martine Letts told the ABC.

Fiona Richardson, Minister for Women, backed the move, saying it would make public space more inclusive of women.

"There are many small - but symbolically significant - ways that women are excluded from public space," she said in a statement.

It reportedly costs an average of $8,400 to change six traffic lights. But Ms Richardson said taxpayer money had not gone towards the initiative, which is being paid for by the Committee for Melbourne and Bayswater company Camlex Electrical.

However, the project was criticised as a sign of political correctness.

Evan Mulholland, from the Institute of Public Affairs think tank, labelled the move "politically correct gesturing by policy makers that want to feel good about themselves", the ABC reported.

Robert Doyle, The lord mayor, also criticised the scheme.

“I’m all for doing anything we can for gender equity, but really?” he was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun. “Unfortunately, I think this sort of costly exercise is more likely to bring derision.”

The move has also split opinion on social media, with one tweeting that it was "feminism at its worst".

Melbourne is not the first city to experiment with such an idea.


New Zealand's capital, Wellington, installed a silhouette of the suffragette Kate Sheppard at eight pedestrian crossings and immortalised a mayoral candidate and transgender woman last year.



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