Teenage girls will work with Centacare Catholic Family Services and Port Adelaide Football Club in schools this term to foster critical thinking about gender equity and women’s rights.
The EMPOWERED program is all about enhancing female Year 10 students’ understanding of what healthy relationships look like, and how to identify red flags that can lead to abusive behaviours.
EMPOWERED will run alongside the Power to End Violence Against Women (PTEVAW) program, which helps 15-year-old boys recognise and stand up to toxic and disrespectful behaviors towards women and girls.
Launched in 2016, PTEVAW has engaged more than 6,600 male students and this week marked its 100th school visit.
The program is delivered by Power Community Ltd with the help of club leaders and ambassadors Tom Jonas, Ollie Wines, Travis Boak, and Hamish Hartlett.
EMPOWERED will be delivered over two, one-hour sessions over consecutive weeks, at the same time as male students undertake PTEVAW.
“This is about working with young women to identify their power and to give them the tools to recognise when things aren’t going ok,’’ said Megan Welsh, Executive Manager of Centacare’s Youth & Community Services.’
Research by the National Community Attitudes towards Violence Women Survey last year found while young people are aware of domestic violence, many are still not able to identify behaviours that constitute abuse.
“I don’t think there’s a common understanding out there about domestic violence; it varies depending on your upbringing and experiences,’’ Megan said.
“This program will draw a line in the sand and raise awareness of what disrespectful behaviours look like, and will reinforce with the girls their rights as women to live in a safe community that supports their health and wellbeing.
“It’s not just about working stuff out on their own, it’s about their friends too, and the role they can play encouraging their peers to find support if they identify them as being at risk.’’
Involving women and girls in raising awareness of gender-based violence was among five recommendations in a 2018 Flinders University evaluation of PTEVAW.
The research revealed emerging evidence that key messages were being taken seriously by male students who were putting them into practice.
For example, challenging low level behaviours by calling out sexist banter, and learning safe ways to step in when they witness inappropriate behaviour.