Behold the little green woman

Celebrating International Women’s Day, the Committee for Melbourne has made its own contribution to the advancement of women.

In a bid to combat ‘unconscious bias’, it has facilitated the installation of female pedestrian figures at 10 traffic lights across Melbourne’s CBD.

Are you scratching your head on this one too?

Has there been an incidence of women stranded at traffic lights because there’s no green woman telling them to walk? Have Melbourne’s road safety and traffic black spot issues been resolved? All the homeless women in Melbourne housed? Women facing violence all protected? Wage parity achieved across genders and industries? Females equally represented in Australian boardrooms? Are men now happily giving birth and staying at home? 

Thought not! But we do have female traffic light figures in Melbourne’s CBD.

Now we don’t want to throw too much water on this initiative, it comes from a good place. Martine Letts, Chief Executive of the Committee for Melbourne, has stated that having only red or green men discriminates against women. And she has impressive backers in the Minister for Women, Fiona Richardson, and Victoria’s Governor General, Linda Dessau. Both have supported the symbolism behind the little green woman, in the fight against sexism.

But at a cost of $8400 to change six traffic lights, this money could probably be better spent. At least the Committee for Melbourne, a not-for-profit organisation, isn’t spending our taxes. It funded the initiative with Camlex Electrical, a company specialising in traffic control systems and maintenance. Could it have an eye on a future revenue stream?

Why stop with women figures? 

In these days of gender diversity there is a never-ending array of options. And some of the most forward-thinking cities in the world are embracing them. New York’s Walking Men exhibition began as an assembly of worldwide traffic icons, on a human scale. Berlin embraced its Ampelmännchen and now has Ampelfrau in some places. There’s a Hello Kitty traffic light, bunnies in Holland (Hello Miffy) and other cities have altered traffic lights to support Pride marches (Hello London, Hello Austria, Hello Sydney).

So, isn’t it befitting that on-trend Melbourne adopts this cause as part of its contribution to International Women’s Day?

For those who disagree, there’s a worthy list of Australian women’s charities that will gladly accept your dollar in support of their work.

And for the curious, well get down to the intersection of Swanston and Flinders streets and check out the little green women for yourselves.

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