Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The voices of young women. Do you hear them?

As a part of the Wikiprogress on Gender Equality series, this progblog on empowering girls and young women is brought to you by Robbie Lawrence, Wikichild Coordinator. 

City Dump in Siem Reap - Courtesy of 10x10 
If you read our Spotlight! Gender Equality and Well-being posted last Friday you would have watched the trailer for ‘Girl Rising’, the feature film made by social action campaigners 10x10 which tells the story of nine girls from nine different walks of life, all seeking self empowerment through education.  The 10x10 team has set out to create a new form of social-issue moviemaking by combining production and advocacy right from the outset of the project’s fruition. The campaign, which brings together the intimacy and emotional thrust of its film with photos, videos, blogs and tweets is an exemplar of the dynamic methods in which organisations today seek to engage their audience. It also represents a ripple in a rapidly growing wave of protests around the world against the social, economic and political inequalities suffered by girls and young women. A wave that is likely to crash down on the impending Post 2015 agenda.

It was, perhaps, the attempt of a heavily male dominated institution to silence the voice of a young Pakistani girl that brought the issue of girl’s rights to the forefront of the Post 2015 discussion. When Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen as she returned home from school she immediately became an icon for voiceless and oppressed girls globally. By expressing her right to an education, Malala almost lost her life, but her attacker’s brutal actions only served to amplify her demands for equity in a transcendently male controlled world.  

Following the attempt on her life, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown launched a UN petition in Malala’s name demanding that children from every continent be in school by 2016 and last week hundreds of thousands of people mobilized to strike and dance for the One Billion Rising campaign in a bid to make her dream become a reality. When the Commission on the Status of Women convenes in New York next month, the weight of the ‘I am Malala’ campaign will undoubtedly weight heavily on the shoulders of the committee.

As the months leading up to the 2015 slip away, activists in favor of empowering girls and young women will hope that the fires ignited by the likes of ‘Girl Rising’ and ‘Malala’s Dream’ will not have cooled. In her recent article, ‘Young People and Inequalities: Recommendations for the post-2015 Development Agenda’, Sara Gold emphasizes the importance of forums like the UN’s ‘Global Online Conversation’, as it provides a platform for people to share their vision of a gender equal world.

We at Wikigender and Wikichild also plan on adding our voice to the global conversation on empowering young women, or should we say, your voice. In line with past online discussions, including this month’s Transforming social norms to prevent violence against women and girls, Wikigender and Wikichild will collaborate to host a forum on adolescent girls and social norms, which will include featured topics such as early marriage, missing women and female genital mutilation. By implementing a recognized location where information can be freely exchanged on topics like gender equality, it is our hope that over time, policy makers will use the reports formed from these discussions as points of reference. As Estelle pointed out in yesterday’s blog Rising against sexual violence! Wikigender will present the findings from their latest discussion at the 57th CSW on the 4th of March. 

Join us for our next online discussion in May on adolescent girls and the social norms getting in the way of their progress. We value your views and will keep you posted.

Wikichild Coordinator

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