Co-lead volunteer for Speak Out Grace McCabe, has been recognised for her campaigning work to end sexual harassment in public spaces with a nomination for the ‘Safe Spaces Now Champion’ at the UN Women UK Awards 2023.
Speak Out is Girlguiding Scotland’s youth advocacy forum and for the past year Grace, along with the cohort of 15 young people (aged 14 – 25, known as the Speak Out champions) has worked tirelessly build the ‘Own Our Zone’ campaign, calling for public spaces to be made safer for girls and young women across Scotland.
Girlguiding research, released in September 2023, found that almost 3 in 5 girls (59%) aged 13-21 worry about being sexually harassed at school, in public or online.
Own Our Zone was created in response to spaces not being built with girls in mind and the lack of outside places where they feel safe. It aims to stop the pressure forcing girls to shrink to fit their spaces, instead, to empower them to stand up and own their zones.
Through the campaign, Grace, her co-lead volunteer Chloe, and Speak Out champions have reached out to MSPs, councillors and town planners advocating that they take urgent action in tackling the systemic barriers that prevent girls and young women from feeling safe and to develop more awareness and education around violence against women.
Following the campaign’s launch in September, it was recognised through a motion in the Scottish Parliament by MSP Monica Lennon (Central Scotland region) and members across the organisation took part in highlighting public spaces around them that could be made safer and more accessible, sharing photos online and tagging their local decision makers with ideas on what could be improved.
Grace’s hard work and passion for improving the lives of girls and young women and encouraging them to exist loudly and joyfully in their communities was highlighted at the UN Women UK Awards, which are all about coming together to recognise the individuals and organisations that are bringing gender equality closer. As a nominee, Grace attended the awards ceremony in London on 15 November for an opportunity to celebrate the progress made thus far in achieving gender equality, and to hear from other advocates and inspiring individuals on plans for the future.
Grace said, “The privilege of being trusted to be Co Lead Volunteer for Speak Out and thus having the platform to campaign for safe spaces is an honour in itself, so I am over the moon to be recognised by the UN in this way. I’m so excited to attend the ceremony with so many other trailblazing women”.
For more information on the Own Our Zone campaign, visit girlguidingscotland.org.uk/for-volunteers/how-to-run-your-unit/challenge-badges/speak-out-campaign-2023-own-our-zone/