Bonnie Support Services

Bonnie Support Services

About MATE

Culture impacts how we perceive the world and interact with others. Like when we welcome someone with a handshake or by kissing them on the cheek or with a bow – we are following the norms that society has set. The same goes for norms around gender. 

“I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that, then I realised I was somebody.” Lily Tomlin, actress and comedian. 
The way we behave with each other is embedded in our culture. Often, if we don’t take time to stop and notice, we don’t realise that the way we behave doesn’t necessarily reflect our values. Or it may be witnessing how others around us act. How we treat women and how others treat women is everyone’s business. It can be as simple as hearing the comment “You play like a girl”, or “Did you see what she was wearing?!” They may seem harmless comments but when you pause and think, they are embedded in gender stereotypes which are inherently discriminatory and patriarchal. In simple language, they degrade women and reinforce the idea that women are less than men. 

“It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.” Jana Stanfield, Motivational Speaker 
Motivating Action Through Empowerment (MATE) is an organisation whose purpose is to encourage people to stand up for what they believe in to create an inclusive and equal society. MATE offers a selection of learning opportunities which supports organisations, businesses and individuals to upskill on how to promote gender equality and prevent discrimination and racism. MATE states that we all have the responsibility to enact our civil liberties and be an active citizen in our day-to-day. It encourages us to consider the ways we are contributing to society and ongoingly question how we can improve and make changes. We all have the power to help shape the culture we want. It becomes about being part of the solution and taking ownership of the role we can play. 

As a bystander to a situation, we have the choice whether or not to intervene and what that looks like. There are many different ways we can interact in a situation and we can choose what feels appropriate and safe to us. There’s no doubt that it can be uncomfortable to step into this role. Whether that’s calling someone out for their comments or behaviour. Whatever the reason, if we don’t speak out, we’re condoning that behaviour.  

“If I learnt one thing from the MATE training it’s that I will no longer stay silent. I won’t stay silent when women are belittled or others are spoken about in an ill-mannered way through humour. Humour is not an excuse and I feel that it is crucial to challenge others because maybe one day I’ll have the courage that someone next to me doesn’t have. By speaking up I hope that the courage is transferred to the one that didn’t feel comfortable to make that challenge so that next time they can feel more comfortable to do so. For me, being an active bystander is not just about stopping a violent action but begins by us using our voice and challenging others when we feel courageous to do so.” Carolina Salloum, Bonnie’s staff member

Educating ourselves on power, privilege and oppression helps us learn how we contribute to structures and systems that marginalise people around us. We can make a choice to stand up for issues, even if they don’t affect us personally. As MATE states, “This is the pinnacle of courage, and leadership and it takes time, maybe even generations, and it takes all of us working together to set new standards of behaviour.”

“I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good I can do.” Jana Stanfield, Motivational Speaker

Written by Celine Massa

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