17 Dec, 2013 Last updated: 30 Mar, 2015

By Jerril Rechter, VicHealth CEO

Letter to the editor from Jerril Rechter was first published in the Sunraysia Daily.

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter

I recently attended a charity event where a ride along with fire-fighters was auctioned. It was spruiked as the perfect Christmas gift for dads and sons. But wouldn’t a girl enjoy the thrill of riding in a fire truck just as much?

At a very early age, girls learn to play with toy ovens and Barbie dolls and boys are encouraged to choose tools, army men and cars. It’s how most of us learned to play as kids and the way toys continue to be marketed today.

Toys for boys often position them to become public leaders like doctors or police, whereas girls often play at housework and caring roles. Boys who like dolls are ‘going through a phase’ and girls who play with trucks are ‘tom boys’ who will one day grow out of it.
Gender stereotypes paint girls and women as weaker and less capable than boys and men.

The evidence shows us that’s how negative attitudes towards women begin.

Children form their beliefs about the world - and their place in it - from their parents first and foremost, so tackling gender inequity begins at home.

This Christmas, please consider the toys you buy for the little people in your life. Musical instruments, art supplies and educational gifts are presents that all children can enjoy and will help them with their development.

On behalf of VicHealth, we wish all of Victoria’s kids, big and small, a safe, healthy and enjoyable holiday season.

- Jerril