Signals Of Change: Are shifting attitudes to gender clearing new ground for action?

Sensemaking / Signals Of Change: Are shifting attitudes to gender clearing new ground for action?

These signals of change show three areas of rapid change in gender relationships: the education and empowerment of women and girls; the rising visibility of diverse genders and sexualities; and the brave new world of human-robot relationships. What new potential for sustainable action might these unlock?

By Anna Simpson / 09 Mar 2016

In recent years, the shared interests of diversity advocates and environmentalists have come to the fore. For many, the UN Sustainable Development Goals helped crystallise the fact that progress on goals from water to energy to nutrition depends on the well-being of women and girls. And women are asserting their presence in public realms, from parks to presidencies – advocating the changes they want to see. Meanwhile, a global shift in thinking on gender and sexuality has cleared new ground for change. More countries now recognise and grant official rights to same-sex couples and trans or gender-neutral identities. As we move beyond assumptions based on traditional notions of masculine and feminine, everything from identity systems and cultural customs to linguistic habits and legal frameworks come into question.

What new possibilities are there to drive change, as we free ourselves from tired and restrictive roles?

[#signalofchange 1] Campaign targets sex robots for potential to exacerbate sexual violence

Amongst a global sex toy industry worth $15 billion are companies applying robotics to sex dolls. Books and articles which have argued this could reduce violence and exploitation in the sex trade by replacing human sex workers, have now sparked opposition. ‘The Campaign Against Sex Robots’ was launched in September 2015 by anthropology and robotics academics who claim such robots will not displace prostitution but only further encourage the treatment of humans as objects and lead to worsening human relations. More here.

Image credit: Michael Coghlan / Flickr

[#signalofchange 2] Selfridges launches unisex clothing department

Selfridges, the iconic department store on Oxford Street, London, is changing the way it sells its clothes. Rather than have separate men and women's departments, it will instead have three floors of unisex clothing, offering a space for customers to shop without "limitations or stereotypes". The store is also launching five unisex fashion collections and will be presenting mixed-gender beauty products and accessories. More here.

Image credit: a'Shioji / Flickr  

[#signalofchange 3] Skateistan teaches girls to skate in Afghanistan

Skateistan, a non-profit organisation, is signing children up to free skateboarding lessons in the war-torn country. The charity was founded by Australian Oliver Percovich who wanted to create role models for working street children, hoping to offer an alternative to following war lords and criminals. Skateboarding was chosen because it is one of the few sports officially acceptable for Afghan girls to participate in: there’s not enough skateboarding to have attracted any official recognition.. More here.

Image credit: Skateistan

Tell us what you think in the comments box or join the discussion on social media with #signalsofchange.

Header art by Bogdan Aleksandrov

What might the implications of this be? What related articles have you seen?

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