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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Female traffic light signals to go up at pedestrian crossing in Melbourne

Pedestrian traffic lights depicting female figures will be installed in Melbourne's CBD today as a part of a lobby group's push for gender equality.

Ten female pedestrian figures will be installed on traffic lights at the intersection of Swanston and Flinders streets as part of a VicRoads-approved 12-month trial.

The Committee for Melbourne — a non-profit organisation comprising more than 120 Melbourne business and community groups — is behind the move.

Chief executive Martine Letts said having only green or red silhouettes of men discriminated against women.

"The idea is to install traffic lights with female representation, as well as male representation, to help reduce unconscious bias," she said.

Ms Letts said the group wanted to see female and male representation on all pedestrian crossings.

"We know that Melbourne is the world's most liveable city and we would really like to see Melbourne also known as the world's most equal city.
"The aim is to move towards one-to-one male and female representation across the state of Victoria."

It costs an average of $8,400 to change six traffic lights.

'Culture of sexism' includes small issues, Minister says

Ms Letts said some people had questioned the move, but said the program was backed by Victorian Governor Linda Dessau.


"Some people have expressed a little scepticism wondering whether it's gesture politics rather than having any real substance," she said.

"But these symbols are a practical and meaningful way to demonstrate that in fact 50 per cent of our population is female and should therefore also be represented at traffic lights."

Minister for Women Fiona Richardson said the use of a woman's figure on pedestrian crossings 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.

"A culture of sexism is made up of very small issues, like how the default pedestrian crossings use a male figure — and large issues such as the rate of family violence facing women."
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".

"Ordinary Victorians are concerned about job security, rising crime and transport infrastructure," he said.

"If this is what our politicians, bureaucrats and policy makers think is the biggest issue facing road users then perhaps it goes a long way to understanding why we are stuck in traffic everyday."
The program has been funded by the Committee for Melbourne and Bayswater company Camlex Electrical.

Ms Richardson said taxpayer money had not gone into the initiative.

Last year the City of Yarra paid tribute to Victoria's first female councillor, Mary Rogers, by placing her silhouette in a pedestrian crossing at a major intersection in Richmond.

(Source: ABC Net)

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