All of us can be youth who inspire change and end FGM and child marriage
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Hi, I’m Isabelle and represent Restless Development on the #YouthforChange Panel. On Saturday 7th June I attended my first #YouthforChange Youth Panel face to face meeting. I was very excited and also a bit nervous; it wasn’t just my first time taking part in #YouthforChange but also my first time in a government building and first time in London for a while!
On arrival I was able to meet the rest of the UK panel team – a brilliant mix of young people aged between 14 and 20. Each individual is passionate about ending female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM); two harmful practices that negatively affect young women and girls. We spent the first part of the day doing an activity that questioned our misconceptions and ideas about FGM and CEFM. International panel members joined us on Skype and participated so that we got a global perspective on the issues. It was great to learn from one another.
We spent the next part of the day discussing the #YouthforChange survey (results coming soon!) before moving on to talk about the #YouthforChange event that will take place on 19th July. This is an extremely exciting event for 170 young people –a day of talks from inspiring speakers and opportunities to learn and take action on improving girls’ rights. As young people ourselves we want to ensure that the day is meaningful and engaging and the participants leave with a feeling of empowerment, so that they can go out and inspire positive change.
At the event we will be running sessions ourselves that focus on the Youth Action Statement. We will be using the youth survey responses and following feedback to create a statement that we’ll present at the Girl Summit. This will represent the voices of young people and so it’s incredibly important that we give an accurate and meaningful message.
Lunch was a great chance to get to know individual panel members better. The panel represents a wide range of organisations including PLAN UK, UNICEF, Integrate Bristol, FORWARD and Restless Development. The passion and knowledge of the members was brilliant to see. Muna and Ifrah, the representatives from Integrate Bristol have just completed their girls’ rights music video that is well worth a watch.
The last part of the day was spent making a Flippagram video – which meant we all got to do some drawing and colouring (something I love)! Although the video was fun to make and an interesting and engaging way to push #YouthforChange, it made me consider how important this summit is. FGM and CEFM must stop. 1 in 3 girls in the developing world is married before her 18th birthday and 1 in 9 girls is married before she’s 15. 140 million women worldwide have undergone FGM. All people have the right to live a life free from harm and fear. As long as FGM and CEFM still happen, then this is not the case.
I had a great, thought provoking day on 5th June which made me even more passionate to raise awareness and help stop these practices. I’m now working hard to make the #YouthforChange event the best it can be.
All of us can be youth who inspire change.
Actions you can take:
Run your own #YouthforChange event – download resource pack here.
Isabelle and the #YouthforChange panel.