Macedon Ranges community organisations are being urged to take part in a program to boost gender equality and prevent violence against women.

The Rural Challenge Project, first trialled in February, last week received a $140,000 state government grant to continue and broaden its community-based programs.

Run by Macedon Ranges council in partnership with the City of Greater Bendigo, the program works mainly with leaders from local clubs and CFA brigades to develop gender equity action plans.

Lancefield Football Netball Club president Leanne Backwell said involvement in the project had been “rewarding and enlightening”.

“Gender equality is a very important thing in a sporting club,” she said. “Being a female president, I have a bit of experience with the issue.”

Ms Backwell said her club’s approach to gender equality involved establishing family-friendly areas such as comfortable spaces for children and parents, moving volunteer roles away from gender stereotypes such as females running the canteen and developing suitable changerooms for women.

“It creates a safe and comfortable sporting environment for males and females,” she said.

So far Lancefield, Macedon and Riddells Creek CFA brigades and Lancefield and Kyneton football netball clubs have participated in the program in the Macedon Ranges.

Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas encouraged local football clubs and CFAs to get involved.

“Prevention will only be effective when our whole community is involved in changing attitudes and challenging the behaviours that can lead to family and gender-based violence,” she said.

Community organisations interested in participating in the project should contact Jessica Crofts on 5422 0333.