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Letters / A safer future

Following on from my letter last week Time to heed their call; Shetland News, 7 October 2021) I have written this week directly to SIC councillors, our local MSP and MP about how gender stereotypes contribute to violence against women, as well as harming girls, boys and men, and also regarding the council’s unconditional support for Lerwick’s Up Helly Aa and Shetland’s Junior Up Hella Aa.

They ought now know Unlimited Potential, the final report of the Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood.

It shows the harms that stereotypes do:

  • Gender stereotypes result in girls, by the age of six, avoiding subjects they view as requiring them to be “really, really smart”, which reads across to lower take-up of STEM subjects in later life;
  • Gender stereotyped expectations result in boys developing poorer reading skills;
  • Children who hold more gender stereotyped views, and whose friends emphasize stereotypes, have poorer wellbeing;
  • 36 per cent of seven to ten year-old girls say they are made to feel their looks are their most important attribute, contributing to dissatisfaction with their bodies which impacts on 4 eating disorders and suicide attempts, just as expectations around the male breadwinner and ‘stoic’ men contribute to higher male suicide rates;
  • There is significant research that finds that challenging gender-stereotyped behaviour in early childhood can reduce violence against women and girls.

The full report is available here.

In the light of this information let us hope that those blocking the long called for minimal changes can be encouraged to reconsider their position.

Shetland Island’s Council should only wish to support a more inclusive, less harmful festival into the future.

Peter Hamilton
Sundibanks

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