5 Minutes with… Young Women Speak Out

In this series we have a chat with activists, advocates and stirrers making a difference for women and girls. To mark International Day of the Girl we caught up with the young feminist activist group Young Women Speak Out. 

Who are you?

We are five young women, Tanvi (18), Zahra (18), Tilly (18), Kate (17) and Anwesha (18), from Canberra.  We’re members of Young Women Speak Out (YWSO), an advocacy and campaign project focussing on issues that affect young women. YWSO was funded through a 2017 YWCA Canberra’s Great Ydeas grants.

Tell us about your campaign #JustHumanThings? 

#JustHumanThings is a photography campaign that continues the discussion around breaking down gender stereotypes people encounter in their daily life: from battling career expectations to challenging gender norms.

Why does this campaign matter to you?

We’re the generation that will not be restricted by gender and gender stereotypes, we won’t be defined by them, we won’t be limited by them.  We want people to see the things we do, the things we love and the work we do, are just human things.

“Gender stereotypes should not define how you express yourself and live your life.”

Kate, 17: “Gender stereotypes should not define how you express yourself and live your life.”

Anwesha, 18: “We want people to be free to comfortably chose what they want out of life, without worrying about gender.”

Zahra, 18: “This photography campaign is a way to really show people that gender doesn’t bind you, and give them the opportunity to connect with the stories of the people in the photographs that they can relate to.”

Why are gender stereotypes a problem?

Stereotypes are problematic when people rely on them as ‘the truth.’  A 2017 Girls’ Attitude Survey from the GirlGuiding UK shows 55% of girls aged 7-21 say gender stereotypes affect their ability to say what they think.” Stereotypes are everywhere, we live in a highly gendered society and that impacts on the choices we make indirectly, and often directly, on the way we share chores, the hobbies we choose, the work we do and how we express ourselves.

Plan International did a report in 2017, called the Dream Gap, which showed that at all ages, in all spaces, girls do not think they are treated equally to boys. Between 96%-98% of girls surveyed said boys and girls received unequal treatment

How do you think that you’re limited or will be limited by gender stereotypes?

We know that Millennial women are working full-time and still doing nearly all the housework.

75% of young women aged 18-25 said they do more housework than the men in their lives.   We don’t want that to be our burden, we want to share the load! If you’re paying children for doing their chores – make sure it’s equal pay!!

Kate, 17: “Maintaining a home should never be gender specific. Sharing chores regardless of gender is another step towards gender equality.”

Tilly, 17: “And we don’t want to be pigeon-holed – young women can excel in maths and so can dancers; both are capable of artistic and academic achievements.

What do you want #JustHumanThings to achieve?

We want people to start conversations, or to continue them, about gender and gender stereotypes and to see how it affects the way with think, feel and act.  As young women, we want more for our futures, we want there to be equality within, between and across genders.

Tanvi, 18: “The diverse opinions and thoughts of young women need to be spread and heard. When young women speak out, it should not be treated as surprising or unexpected. It should be a norm rather than an exception when young women speak out and are listened to.”

Tilly, 18: “Don’t doubt the impact you can have on others just by breaking stereotypes and succeeding in your passions; such simple acts can inspire and empower.”

zahra-taking-photoWhat are you asking for people to think about?

People should be judged on their abilities, talents and words, not their appearance and assumptions.

People should be given jobs based on their skills, not their gender, because work has no gender: we need to break down gendered expectations around jobs, increasing the 1% of women in plumbing and 3% of men in floristry!

When does #JustHumanThings launch?

Our campaign launches on Thursday 11 October on International Day of the Girl Child 2018.  We want people to start, or continue those conversations around gender and gender stereotypes.  

How can people get involved?

We’d love you to follow us on social media and show your support for our campaign.  Find us on Insta and Twitter at @ywspeakout and Facebook at @youngwomenspeakout

Share your photos of how you challenge gender expectations and norms.  Join us in showing that chores, hobbies, work and passions are #JustHumanThings.

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Equality Rights Alliance