The SDGs, #16days and Young Women’s Voices in Parliament – what you can do next

YWVoices panel 30/11On the 30th November 2016, The National Alliance of Women’s Organisations held a fantastic day at the Houses of Parliament, to celebrate the success of their Young Women’s Alliance Advance initiative during the #16days of activism to end violence against women and girls, and raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals and other ways of creating change. The events and lobbying provoked lively discussions and strategies from the role of young people to the concrete ways in which we can all contribute to change.

img_5910We will be uploading more information, photos and a full report shortly, but until then we wanted to share some of the actions that those who attended – or anyone! – can take if they’ve felt inspired by our work towards ending violence against women, educating about using the Sustainable Development Goals (aka the Global Goals) to create change, or empowering young women’s voices to be heard. See the conversation on Twitter at #YWAAdvance 

If you have no minutes:

  • Our YWA Advance Project Manager highlighted the ability of each of us to consider the ways that in our everyday lives we experience, witness, condone, encourage or commit violence as change can only be achieved by everyone’s little efforts accumulating.  Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP also linked in assessing the way we promote consent as parents – you can read more about the NSPCC’s ‘Let’s talk P.A.N.T.S.’ campaign
  • Carolina Gottardo of the Latin American Women’s Rights Service stressed that in her experience even in the UK young people, especially migrant Latin American girls in the UK she has worked with, are not receiving their right to education. She advised taking part in the Against Borders for Children campaign, which you can do by refusing government’s request that you share on school forms whether your child is a foreign national. You are well within your rights to do this. Learn why ABC say is the policy is ‘unnecessary, divisive and puts vulnerable children at risk – read more here.
  • Consider the ways in which ideas about masculinity affect the role you or the men in your life can play in advocating for the rights of women and girls and ensuring, as above, that we all consider the ways in which we interact with and can disrupt the acceptance of violence. Jenny Vaughn of Progressio shared Francis Yakoma Masingi’s blog on how he realised volunteering for Progressio that ‘I have to take a leading role in breaking these gender roles and changing people’s mindset in my community’.

And 5 5-minute actions you can take if you’ve been inspired to learn more or contribute your own small action:

  1. Sign the petition to get the government to ratify (legally commit to) The Istanbul Convention, which Dr Whiteford explained could be instrumental in preventing women and girls from violence they’re currently left exposed to, if it were implemented. The UK was a leader in creating it and even signed it, it’s been 4 years since then with no sign of progress. Dr Whiteford encouraged us to sign, and share #ICChange @ICChangeUK far and wide.
  2. And email your MP now to get them to vote on 16th December to approve Dr Eilidh’s Private Members Bill in parliament – the next stage of getting The Istanbul Convention into law. We need 100 MPs to turn up and ChangeHerstory.
    Lobbying Neil Carmichael 30/11

    YWA Advance delegates supported by NAWO to ask their MP, Neil Carmichael, to ratify the Istanbul Convention on 16th December

  3. Sign the petition to ask government to keep their commitment to gender equality (agreed to in September 2015 in the SDGs) by taking certain actions that will ensure we leave no women and girls behind.
  4. One thing consistently raised by Young Women’s Alliance Advance delegates was the need for government to support schools to play their key role in creating a safe space which does not tolerate violence against young women and girls – including crucially by making sex education compulsory despite youth organisations’ and many political parties’ consensus that this is vital. Add your name here to join the thousands renewing our efforts to make this concern heard. #SREnow Zuleika Frost highlighted the need to encourage activism through making it easy for students to run assemblies and extracurricular activities, and Precious Kennedy-Hamilton, urged the need for school staff to be trained in FGM and able to cultivate a culture of awareness and support for all students.
  5. Be inspired by young Sin Fronteras participants proclaiming #ImNotYourMamasita at their project launch here! And learn more from young women about their experiences of how violence affects young women’s lives BUT also the power they’ve realised they and we all have to make change. Whilst you wait for their speeches to be uploaded you can read their blog posts right here

Thank you to everyone who made our events possible, including the young women who took part in YWA Advance, Mei Jayne Yew, Precious Kennedy Hamilton, Zuleika Frost, Maya Wilson-Autzen, Catherine Walters and Jenny Coates.

Massive thanks are due to Baroness Verma, Jess Phillips and Roberta Blackman Woods for hosting and chairing our events, as well as Jenny Vaughn and Progressio, Carolina Gottardo and Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP for their fantastic contributions to our panel.

We are incredibly grateful for the support of ROSA’s fund for women in enabling the project as a whole.

And last but by no means least everyone who attended and contributed to the informative, pragmatic and insightful discussions – we hope you enjoyed, learned and felt inspired with us to ensure that we continue to put our desire for human rights to be enjoyed by all into action in whatever small ways we can. SDGs VAWG panel 30/11