Chalk Circle is an independent non-for-profit organisation that creates conversations around gender literacy to empower the next generation.
Chalk Circle is an independent non-for-profit organisation that creates conversations around gender literacy to empower the next generation. Founded in 2014, we engage the community with credible, relatable, and empowering information regarding gender literacy. Our priority populations are young people and people from traditionally marginalised backgrounds.
What is ‘gender literacy’?
Gender Literacy is the ability to critically examine gender socialisation and understand the effects of rigid gender roles and their relationship with gender inequality, discrimination, oppression and violence.
Emma Goldman famously said that ‘the most violent element in society is ignorance’. We believe that setting a standard for the community to be gender literate allows a strong foundation to critically examine gender and understand the effects of rigid gender roles and their relationship with gender inequality, discrimination, oppression and violence. Literacy, put simply, is the ability to use knowledge. It follows logically that knowledge must be gained before it is used. Particular skills, attitudes and behaviours must be fostered and harnessed to direct this use.
Interdisciplinary work has established a clear evidence-base regarding gender. While there are recognised sex differences in being male and being female; gender socialisation explains many of the actual and perceived differences between the gender binary of women and men. In examining credible international measures, this information paints an undisputed picture as to the outcomes of this socialisation. It shows that, in every nation on Earth, women do not have equal resources to men, nor do they share equal outcomes or have access to equal opportunities. Gender literacy, therefore, is the acquisition and understanding of this information. A high level of gender literacy is achieved when skills and attitudes are developed and aligned. It is both that simple, and that complex.
Gender literacy does not dictate what to do with this information once it is known and understood. Like learning how to write, it does not ask that what is written are particular words, in a particular order. It does not specify the vehicle for change like different schools of feminism may. Instead it works from a premise that positive change can and will happen by the broader community becoming more gender literate, and by individuals being encouraged and supported to use this gender literacy in a way that is relevant, accessible, meaningful and change-making to erase rigid gender roles and inequalities.
Why ‘Chalk Circle’?
Chalk Circle, as both an organisation name and concept, acknowledges that people often feel compelled to operate as though a faint chalk line is drawn around them, restricting them to specific gender roles and responses. This chalk outline also references the serious and sometimes violent outcomes that can occur when resources are unequally distributed and gender roles are rigid (VicHealth, 2007).
Chalk Circle articulates the opportunity to create awareness around gender roles and work through educative models and structures to erase restrictions due to gender. Importantly, Chalk Circle presents an opportunity to rub out a past of gender inequality; and draw a future in which all people, especially those from traditionally marginalised demographics, are equal.