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24th September 2014, 8:37am
Students stand up against sexism
Seminar room Students from the University of Lincoln, UK, will be given training on how to stand up to sexist behaviour as part of a new research project on tackling gender-based discrimination.

The research will see the launch of a prevention education programme called Get Savi, which trains students on what gender-based discrimination is, and how to be assertive when confronting language and behaviour which could be seen as sexist and potentially lead to harmful situations.

Students will receive two days’ training from Scottish Women’s Aid, learning how to recognise sexist or homophobic statements or jokes, and will be given training on ways to speak out and challenge such behaviour safely if they encounter it. Once they have been trained, the students will then run further workshops in pairs for other groups of students to pass on their knowledge and skills.

The research is funded by the University and led by Criminology lecturer Dr Sundari Anitha with colleagues from the Schools of Social and Political Sciences, Health and Social Care and Performing Arts.

“It’s important that we can recognise behaviour which could lead to discrimination or abuse, and learn how to stand up against it in our own way,” said Dr Anitha, who specialises in the problem of discrimination, sexism and violence against women in the UK and India.

“We are giving them the confidence to challenge behaviour that they might be thinking is unacceptable, but are not quite sure how to tackle it. We’re not asking students to ever put themselves in a harmful situation, but rather to stand up to sexist attitudes in a safe and clear way.

“By building their assertiveness in speaking out, the scheme will allow students to challenge the acceptability of this behaviour. We believe that this is the start of a very positive campaign within the University, and we look forward to seeing the project progress and be taken up in other UK universities.”

The programme is supported by the White Ribbon Campaign, which sees men work to end violence against women, and Tender, an organisation working to prevent and address domestic and sexual violence in the lives of young people. Tender will also be providing workshops throughout the academic year. The local police and Rape Crisis centres are also involved and will help to support the project. Organisers say they are building on the success of similar programmes run by US universities.

Ellie Hutchinson, a prevention worker from Scottish Women’s Aid which is delivering the initial training, said:

“Everyone has different ways of challenging sexism. Our training course is an innovative way to explore how people can speak out against sexism in all forms. We give people the tools to help them find their voice, and reflect on why it’s important to speak out.

“Challenging behaviour such as sexist slurs contributes to building a more supportive, more compassionate, and more pro-active environment.”

It is thought to be one of the first programmes of its kind in the UK and could go on to be rolled out across other universities. In its first year, the programme will be offered to first year students with spaces for around 60 participants. Students taking part in the project will be able to apply for The Lincoln Award, which recognises a range of extra-curricular activities.

The programme will be evaluated by a team of academics at the University as part of a wider research project on how prevention education can help to change attitudes towards gender-based discrimination.

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