Hi everyone, I’m Poppy, and I’m a Speak Out Champion, a Ranger, and a Brownie and Guide young leader! It’s International Day of the Girl today which offers another great opportunity to bring attention to the fact that girls need better representation when it comes to decision making. We need to be listened to more on the issues and decisions that impact us, and any barriers that stop us reaching our potential must be removed.
The rights of girls and young women is an issue that I’m extremely passionate about, especially those who live in more deprived part of Scotland, and thankfully my Speak Out champion role allows me to advocate for this group in ways I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. For example, did you know that women and girls from deprived areas have a lower chance of being accepted for specific roles or jobs? Not just because they are women but because of their backgrounds too.
Another problem all girls and young women often face (even more so in deprived areas) is the threat of sexual harassment and even violence. Feeling unsafe as a result can limit girls from living their lives freely. If girls and young women feel like their school, college or university campus isn’t a safe space their education can be severely impacted in a way boys and young men maybe wouldn’t experience.
Girlguiding Scotland has given me a platform to use my voice for change and I’ve been able to link up with more people who are just as passionate as I am about gender equality. This is why myself and the other Speak Out champions are in the process of creating a campaign which will focus on the importance of girls and young women’s safety – we’ll share more information on this at a later date so stay tuned.
We picked the topic of safety in public spaces in light of the deaths of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa and Ashling Murphy. The circumstances in which they all passed was a cruel reminder that we need safer streets and we need them now. We want to make a difference. Girls deserve to feel safe when they leave their homes alone and change is long overdue. We’re partnering with some fantastic women’s charities to spread the message of women’s safety.
My advice to young girls reading this would be to never back down and don’t be afraid to speak your mind – you deserve to be heard by those in positions of power. The advice I would give volunteers wanting to help encourage their unit to get more involved in gender activism would be to make sure young people feel listened to, and like their opinions truly matter. Plus, don’t forget to keep a look out for our new campaign and activity pack which is coming soon!