“One of the things I’ve noticed when you talk to parents about how you educate kids about feminism, is that often people think it’s just a matter of educating girls. But that’s totally wrong,” says Sarah-Lou Newman, founder of The Minefield, a new forum pitched at empowering parents with the right tools to have open and honest conversations with their children about issues around gender and equality. “Actually it’s about educating boys and girls. But how do you do that? How do you start the conversation? How far do you go?”

These are some of the questions that first led Newman, an artist and mother-of-two (currently pregnant with her third girl) to launch The Minefield – but the route was circuitous: “I found myself sitting in my studio really stuck for inspiration. I wanted to make an art project that covered subjects that were important to me and that I felt passionate about but the work always felt lacklustre and inactive… I started a project on child marriage after seeing a really amazing photography series and corresponding articles about young girls across the world forced into marriage. I couldn’t get the fact that some of them were as young as my eldest daughter, Mabel, out of my head.

Sarah-Lou and her daughter, Mabel

“The more I read about feminism and gender equality, particularly in early years development, the more I began to revaluate my own actions and the way I treat and talk to my girls. The reality that I will be raising three girls in our current social climate is at times pretty worrying and I wanted to feel prepared, more than anything, for those moments when something tricky happens, and to explain things in a way that would empower them instead of knock them down. Like any parent I want my kids to feel free to be themselves and love who they are and never feel constrained by someone else’s expectations of them.”

The more I read about feminism and gender equality, particularly in early years development, the more I began to revaluate my own actions and the way I treat and talk to my girls

The more Newman, 33, started to talk to other parents the more she realised that others were feeling the same way. Ultimately she hopes to create a safe space, where mothers and fathers share ideas and explore issues ranging from safeguarding children’s online behaviour to promoting positive body image, and anything between. “I had a lot of conversations with parents of girls in particular who were very concerned about the princess effect, the limited choices offered to girls in terms of toys and play, and also the kinds of TV aimed at them. Parents of boys seemed concerned with helping their sensitivity and creativity bloom in a world of quite physical and often violent influences. They wanted to raise feminist boys but have no idea where to begin.”

That’s where The Minefield comes into its own: a place to discuss, educate and share ideas. “It’s not always going to be about serious heavy subjects – more often than not it will be more day-to-day stuff because those are the issues we all deal with as parents, so we can all offer non-judgmental insights because ultimately we’re all in it together.”

Join the conversation at theminefield.co.uk

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