Traffic lights at the corner of Swanston and Flinders streets are now displaying a female figure in a push for gender equality.
The 12-month trial has been labelled the “Equal Crossings Initiative” and is a project of the Committee for Melbourne’s business and civic leadership program, the Future Focus Group.
The Equal Crossings Initiative was financed by donations from companies Camlex and M1 Traffic Management.
Committee for Melbourne CEO, Martine Letts, said the Equal Crossings Initiative would draw attention to Melbourne’s “unconscious bias” in a positive way.
“We have been voted the world’s most liveable city six times in a row, and we should also aim to be the world’s most equal city,” she said.
Victorian Minister for Women, Fiona Richardson also expressed support for the initiative, stating it was “a wonderful way to make public space more inclusive of women”.
Public response to the initiative has been mixed. Facebook users have deemed the change as “unnecessary” and “stupid”, while others pointed out that they believed the current lights were already gender neutral as women do, in fact, wear pants.
Some opponents of the initiative have sent aggressive and rather personal emails to Ms Letts.
“What’s very concerning to me is when groups such as Future Focus do step up and do more and instead of being encouraged, we do see some pretty aggressive behaviour and criticism that I think does cross the line,” Ms Richardson said.
However, Ms Letts said that she had also been receiving great support from influential female figures such as Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau and chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, Carol Schwartz.
The Equal Crossings Initiative aims to have 1:1 male and female representation at traffic lights. This will be achieved by replacing currently broken or malfunctioning lights with the new, female lights.