Teaching Individuals Gender Equality and Respect (T.I.G.E.R) currently run workshops for young people in Bristol challenging gender issues such as the limited portrayals of gender in the media, sexist language, stereotypes and bullying. They are also hoping to develop workshops for teaching staff and workplaces to tackle sexism and to empower people to challenge and question what might be seen as normal behaviour and attitudes but are actually gender discrimination.
When Natalie Bennett, Rosie Sinfield and Emma Turnbull came in to Bristol Women’s Voice to sign up to the Bristol Zero Tolerance pledge they were excited about how well it fitted in to the work they are already doing and the vision of the organisation.
As Emma noted “it’s just really a more formal wider framework for what we are really already doing so it’s all completely in alignment really, there’s nothing here that’s contradictory at all. We are totally behind these values.” Natalie agreed “it’s just so fitting with what we do already and it will be great to link up with organisations like Bristol Women’s Voice, with the Council, with others doing similar work, and promoting that and making connections and raising awareness about the work that we deliver… then if other organisations sign the pledge they can see that we are working to tackle these issues then that’s great for us and it spreads the word about the good work that we are doing.”
They also felt that the initiative reflects a wider attitude in Bristol and reinforces that: “it’s another level of awesome really isn’t it! It’s another example of how forward thinking and innovative Bristol is and how it has an egalitarian spirit and it wants to innovate and there is a real kind of social justice force here. People really are passionate about those things and there is an awareness which is now being built on with the pledge and it is great that it has political support, I don’t see that happening in many other places. This is why Bristol is really at the forefront and a good place to live.”
The benefit of being involved in Bristol Zero Tolerance to them as an organisation was clear. For Natalie the opportunity to work with other organisations and bring them together was key “networking opportunities as well will be amazing with organisations who are doing similar work… what’s clever about it is that quite a lot of the time you feel that there are lots of people doing this good work but they’re not talking to each other and they’re not making those connections. So to have this for people who are doing this work being put under the same umbrella, I think that’s great and it gives a network of people doing similar work. You can often feel quite isolated when you are fighting over funding and in competition so doing something like this really unites us all.” As Emma pointed out “collaboration is going to be the antidote to what is not collaboration which is gender-based violence.”
The positive impact of Bristol Zero Tolerance on the work they do was also discussed, as Rosie noted “I think there is an opportunity to push our boundaries and this is a great way to start thinking about that and how we can work in different ways.” Emma said that “potentially we could be adapting our curriculum so that we are making sure that this is quite a focal point because this is one element of such a range of different topics to do with gender equality and again we could make sure that we are focusing on this particularly in places that it is really going to benefit and target people who are going to be exposed and might face these issues. So we can have an awareness of that as we plan our work.”
T.I.G.E.R work with young women and men and they highlighted how important it is to raise the issue of gender inequality with both and boys and girls are everyone is affected by it. This is why they have young male and female workers running the sessions as role models and also to model behaviour and how they interact with each other. As Emma commented “I think there is a sort of pool of gender issues that everyone is being affected by and women are being really negatively affected by it but I don’t think men are enjoying it either. They are also part of a dysfunctional cooperation between the sexes and the genders and so no one’s winning.”
Therefore their vision for Bristol to become a Zero Tolerance City is that “everyone feels safe and free to just be themselves without any fear of repercussion, any fear of being oppressed based on their perceived gender, expectations and constraints that society might put on them and the threat of violence…” As Natalie noted “I think it’s about taking gender inequality and gender-based violence seriously and doing something about it, and doing something about preventative measures as well so that everyone is thinking about it as a community. And recognising that gender inequality exists in the first place, sometimes people think that it isn’t a problem.”