Young voices need to be heard within the women’s movement!

Often when we think of the women’s movement we tend to ignore children and young people as a whole. Many young people are challenging this and have engaged both at local and national levels to demand change. Izzy, aged 23 from Wales, UK has volunteered with Welsh Women’s Aid to raise vital funds for the organisation. Izzy has helped organise coffee mornings; dinner galas and even recruited volunteers to run in the Cardiff Marathon. These engaging activities act as a hub for support as well as generating funds for under-funded refuges.

‘The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimated that one in five adults aged 18 to 74 years experienced at least one form of child abuse, whether emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or witnessing domestic violence or abuse, before the age of 16 years (8.5 million people)’

Official statistics show us children and young people are subjected to abuse, and survivor engagement programmes need to put young people’s experience at the centre. Izzy collaborated with Cardiff Women’s Aid to set up a moderator forum for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. This is an online platform where survivors can share their experiences and gain peer support. Izzy has also worked with victims of hate crime providing emotional support, practical advice and advocating for them.

‘31% of young women aged 18-24 report having experienced sexual abuse in childhood.’

Izzy believes that our future generation should be able to both be educated and share their voice on these issues. During an interview, when Izzy was asked why young people’s voices are important, she responded ‘everyone’s voices are important for different reasons, for me it would be more so having personal experiences of domestic/sexual violence and also having supported and seen people close to me in similar situations. I think I see myself as being a voice for some people who can’t speak out about what they may be experiencing’. She added that it’s important for young people to be decision makers for women’s rights issues, to be able to advocate on people’s behalf because of their vulnerabilities, a lot of them can be in abusive relationships, and sometimes without even realising it is abusive, so being able to spread further awareness on this from young people is important.

‘41% of UK girls aged 14 to 17 in an intimate relationship experienced some form of sexual violence from their partner’ (CSEW)

Getting involved in the local activism can feel very daunting and you may not know where to start. Izzy first got involved by researching women rights charities in her area, this linked her to the volunteer page with lots of different opportunities. It can sometimes feel like a snowball, you go from one opportunity which links you to another, and you can explore what you enjoy. Izzy added that it can make you feel empowered working with an organisation, directly supporting survivors can be challenging but when working alongside an organisation you always have the option of checking in and getting advice.

Community activism is a passion for Izzy, going to specific protests and events within her area to challenge the culture is one of the most powerful ways that she has engaged with the Women’s Movement. She often gets involved with activism via social media platforms which is another way to be able to spread awareness.

A top tip from Izzy, is to remember that engagement is a flexible journey and does not mean that you need to work with an organisation directly, you can do simple things like reading a book; talking to your friends about consent; look at what local community centres are doing. By simply talking about ending violence against women, works to end it!

Ultimately, ending violence against women and girls is ‘everyone’s business’ and by actively engaging young people in the fight, drives us one step closer to the goal.

It is estimated that around 3 million women across the UK experience rape, domestic violence, forced marriage, stalking, sexual exploitation, trafficking and other forms of violence every year. This is the equivalent to the population of Wales.

If you live in Wales, UK and need help or are worried about someone, you can contact the 24 hour helpline on 0808 801 800 or you can contact the  Helpline by text 24/7 on 078600 77 333. Their advisors can support you in Welsh, English and any other languages using LanguageLine.


Author: 2nd generation WAVE Youth Ambassador from Wales/UK, Sabiha Azad