The Mount Alexander Shire is promoting respect for women this November as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
The international campaign started in 1991 and calls for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
Mount Alexander Family Violence Prevention Network chair Nicki Renfrey said businesses in the region would don orange later this month to start conversations around gender equality.
"We know that gender inequality is a key driver of family violence," Mrs Renfrey said.
"The campaign is a positive way to start a conversation about the need for gender equality and how it can help prevent family violence.
"We would love to see local businesses show their support and raise awareness of this serious topic."
Mrs Renfrey said the region had made conscious efforts in the past few years to introduce initiatives that would improve gender equality.
"For a shire our size, we're doing a great job," she said. "One way is through the women's cricket league, which started as the Batting for Gender Equality project.
"It started from women wanting to be active and participate in cricket. It has grown from one social game that had so much interest, they created a local cricket association for women."
Mrs Renfrey said four clubs now contributed a team to the competition.
"You can hear conversations changing around the clubs," she said. "There's a better understanding of being welcoming to women and being aware of things like sexist jokes and stereotypes.
"It's about being an active bystander and standing up and saying when something isn't right."
More women were now involved in the sporting clubs at all levels, Mrs Renfrey said.
"There's that idea that you can't be what you can't see," she said. "There are now these great role models so young girls don't feel like they have to drop the sport once they reach a certain age.
"They can see a pathway to continue to enjoy the sport they love."
Gender equity programs were also used in other organisations in the Mount Alexander Shire, Mrs Renfrey said.
"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink," she said. "They need to want to change.
"If clubs take it seriously, it can be a real benefit to them - and that's for any organisation that wants to have change."
Mrs Renfrey said while great strides had been made towards gender equality in the region, the work had just begun.
"I look back and see how much we've done," she said. "But I look forward and say there is still so much to do.
"It definitely can and does work, but it's about having the right people to drive that change."
The 16 Days of Activism will start on November 25 and finish on December 10. Mrs Renfrey said people could visit centralvicpcp.com.au for more information about the campaign.
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