Nothing About Us Without Us: Supporting Young Women to Become Community Changemakers

Nothing About Us Without Us: Supporting Young Women to Become Community Changemakers

Nothing About Us Without Us: Supporting Young Women to Become Community Changemakers

Commentary

3 min read

Last week we took an exciting new step in our Compass programme: We had our first youth advocacy workshop to equip fifty adolescent girls from across London with the skills needed to advocate for the change they want to see in their schools, communities and beyond.

Compass works with young women to broaden and raise their career aspirations and supports them to navigate barriers to higher education.  The project also helps them explore the link between identity, empowerment and resilience. We achieve this through mentoring sessions with professional women, workshops with university partners, and videoconference sessions with inspirational women from around the world.

Increasingly we have been hearing from these young women that they want a platform to speak and be heard, and to create the change they want to see in their communities. This has served to strengthen a project which ultimately aims to empower young women from communities affected by extremism, hate crime and deprivation.

Our approach to influencing policy, at a local and national level, is led by the deeply rooted belief that young people can and should lead the way on policy reform that affects them. ‘Nothing about us without us’ is a well-known youth campaigning phrase that encapsulates this ethos. The faith in the young women we work with, and the conviction that they have ideas worth listening to, is what motivated the delivery of this advocacy workshop.

We are proud to pioneer an approach which places young people centre stage as the creators and leaders of change. They know what needs to change, they just need the skills and resources to support them to succeed in implementing the change process.

Our approach to influencing policy, at a local and national level, is led by the deeply rooted belief that young people can and should lead the way on policy reform that affects them.

Over the course of the two days, the young women participated in a series of activities that equipped them with the knowledge and competencies to deliver their campaigns. This included a tour of the Houses of Parliament, a panel discussion with leading women working in the political and policy landscape, including MP Tulip Siddiq and two bespoke skill development workshops. Restless Development took the Compass participants through the ins and outs of youth-led campaigning, and Resonance Voice trained the young women in the art of public speaking. We also developed a toolkit for the workshop which provided the framework for the event and to support the ongoing development of their campaign plans.

The advocacy training was themed around education, specifically based on a draft set principles that the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change has developed for a new global advocacy initiative called the Generation Global Commitment: to promote global citizenship and build resilience to extremism. This initiative aims to secure commitment from governments around the world to sign up to and implement policy reforms to education systems to promote global citizenship, tolerance and open-mindedness.  Using these principles as a framing, the young women decided on a policy issue to focus their advocacy and campaign efforts on.

The campaigns they created during the workshop focused on the need to increase the quantity and quality of mental health provision in schools; diversity within the curriculum and better inclusion and representation of different groups of people; and the need to foster 21st century life skills in students.

By the end of the workshop, the young women had comprehensive step-by-step plans for their own advocacy campaigns about these issues, which they clearly feel passionately about.  Going forward, we will be supporting them to implement their advocacy plans, to reach out to those in positions of power, and ultimately to create the change they want to see become reality. 

Jordan Shows the Way in Taking Action to Prevent Extremism

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