EQUALITY: Australia Installs Female Traffic Light Signals To Make World Less Sexist

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Several traditional crosswalk signals in Melbourne, Australia will soon be replaced with the female figure usually displayed on the outside of public bathrooms.

The conventional pedestrian crossing signals feature a simple human figure. But due to concerns of equality for women, members of the Committee of Melbourne, an Australian lobby group, and city officials are uninstalling some of the standard ones and substituting them with an image that is exactly the same, aside from a widened torso that is intended to depict a dress.

“The idea is to install traffic lights with female representation, as well as male representation, to help reduce unconscious bias,” Martine Letts, the CEO of the Committee for Melbourne, a nonprofit coalition that is composed of more than 120 community organizations and businesses, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). “The aim is to move towards one-to-one male and female representation across the state of Victoria.”

An Australian politician also applauds the idea.

“There are many small — but symbolically significant — ways that women are excluded from the public space,” Victoria’s Minister for Women Fiona Richardson, said in a statement, according to ABC. “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.”

The initiative, which is called Equal Crossings, according to The Guardian, is receiving mixed reviews.

“Ordinary Victorians are concerned about job security, rising crime and transport infrastructure,” said Evan Mulholland from the Institute of Public Affairs think tank, according to the ABC. “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.”

Also, while it reportedly doesn’t cost the taxpayers any money because a electrical company is sponsoring the project, many Australians feel the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Sarah Harris, an Australian journalist and television personality, said the funds going to the project would be better spent on facilities that help victims of domestic violence.

The average costs for changing six traffic lights: $8,400, according to ABC.

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