Give gifts this festive season, not stereotypes.

As we edge closer to putting the milk and cookies out for Santa, it’s time to start looking at our shopping lists for friends and family. If you have children to buy for, perhaps your lists looks a little like this one?

  • Toby, 10: toy truck
  • Michael, 8: superhero cape
  • Jordon, 11: train track set
  • Jessica ,9: princess dress
  • Breanne, 6: plastic jewellery
  • Amanda, 11: play kitchen

If your list is similar, No Gender December, an initiative established by Australia’s Play Unlimited, would encourage you instead to pledge to gift a non-stereotyped toy this Christmas to your cherished little ones.

I can see some terrific messaging behind this campaign, which asks us to see through the gender marketing of the retailers vying for our shopping dollar, and instead, look at the individual we are buying for.

What if instead of the shopping list above, we gifted Toby a craft set, and Amanda a backyard cricket set? We would be encouraging Toby to explore his creative side, and helping Amanda to play outside with family and friends!

Imagine the impact we could have on their development by putting some extra thought into what it is that they need or want this Christmas. By thinking outside the square, we can really have an impact on our younger generation. Other great gift ideas that don’t stereotype are family board games, outdoor games or water sports, educational books and DVDs, colouring in books – the list is endless.

What’s also interesting, is the impact gender equality can have on society even at a young age. Above and beyond empowerment, the World Health Organisation recognises that there’s a link between gender inequality in the community and violence against women and children. They state: “Interventions attempt to address gender norms and equality early in life, before gender stereotypes become deeply ingrained in children and youth… some school-based programmes have demonstrated their effectiveness.”

Now this takes gender equality to a place far beyond empowering men and women, and actually looks at the behaviours and how they relate to an issue of violence, so prevalent in our society today. I’m not at all suggesting that by giving Toby a toy truck we are instigating a violent behaviour, but it’s an interesting point that the WHO raises about gender equality at a young age.

The more we can do with breaking down stereotypes at a young age, the more positive and accepting behaviours we may just be instilling in our next generation.

With Christmas just around the corner, if you’re interested in pledging a “No Gender December” simply visit their website.

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