Today saw the launch of the very first Manifesto for Girls’ Rights in Wales by Full Circle at the Senedd, home to the National Assembly for Wales.
The event was sponsored by Assembly Member Julie Morgan, with over one hundred guests in attendance to learn more about the challenges facing girls and young women in Wales and Full Circle’s efforts to raise this as an agenda with policy makers, legislators, organisations, schools and young people.
The launch gave attendees a chance to hear from young women themselves, who spoke passionately and eloquently about the challenges facing girls. Pupils from Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Plasmawr in Cardiff gave a presentation on the feminism group they have founded in school to address issues such as sexism and sexual bullying, highlighting practical ways other schools and youth groups can create positive change.
The event also gave attendees a chance to learn about a recent research study completed by Plan International UK, one of the largest children’s charitites in the world. Plan UK, supported by WEN Wales, the Women’s Equality Network, presented their seminal and groundbreaking research ‘The State of Girls’ Rights in the UK‘ which included Wales for the first time in 2016.
The event was held in celebration of International Day of the Girl, and was supported by the Big Lottery’s Celebration Fund, which aims to support organisations and groups to host celebrations in their communities. International Day of the Girl is a UN-led day which aims to champion, celebrate and support girls and young women across the globe.
The Manifesto for Girls’ Rights was developed by Full Circle in response to our work with young people across the country and internationally. We regularly hear stories concerning girls’ lack of rights, gender inequality, sexism and sexual harassment and other issues that stop girls – and boys – from reaching their potential. The Manifesto draws on the voices of girls and professionals, gathered from workshop sessions, focus groups and a survey of over 600 young women in Wales. The Manifesto for Girls’ Rights explores 5 key themes:
An Education – Although girls tend to perform better than boys in school, the long term picture isn’t so great. Girls need impartial careers advice, gender-neutral learning environments, and education about key issues that affect them, such as health and well-being, sex and relationships, politics, and financial literacy.
A Voice – To create long-lasting change in Wales girls’ voices must be heard. Too often there are a lack of leadership opportunities for girls, with their voices going unheard about key issues within their community.
A Safe Community – One in three girls and young women are likely to be the victim of violence and domestic abuse in their lifetimes. Girls deserve the right to live free from fear of harassment, violence, and abuse in every home, school and community.
A Fulfilling Future – Too many girls in Wales still hold stereotypical ideas about careers and their future potential, with limited aspirations leading to cycles of poverty. Girls need to meet inspirational female role models, practical careers advice, and have opportunities to aspire to their potential.
Freedom of Choice – Girls are bombarded with unrealisitic images of beauty and perfection on a daily basis, and are faced with a barrage of negative messages about what it means to be a twenty-first century girl. Girls in Wales deserve the freedom to choose their own beliefs and values about their gender.
Download your copy of the manifesto for Girls’ Rights in Wales here, and learn more about our recommendations to support girls and young women, and how you can support this work.
We asked young women what it’s like to grow up as a young woman in Wales. Fundamental Rights: The Voices of Girls in Wales is the first survey to comprehensively question girls and young women to gain an insight into what it’s like to be a young female growing up in Wales. Over six hundred girls completed the survey from cities, towns and villages across the country.
The results are concerning: only 7.5% of respondents feel there is enough support for girls and young women in Wales. 59% of girls do not perceive themselves as having the same rights and opportunities as boys and young men. More than half of respondents (55%) stated there are not enough positive role models for young women in Wales.
We asked girls and young women what it’s like to grow up in Wales, and the issues they face. Girls reported that the main issues they experience are body image concerns, with 91% reporting this as problem, worries about passing exams (86%), pressure to achieve and do well in school (80%), mental health problems (75%), sexism (70%), sexual harassment (65%), and struggling to fit in (60%).
Read the full report ‘Fundamental Rights: From Feminism to Fashion, Sex to Stereotypes: The Voices of Girls in Wales’ here.
Download your copy of the Manifesto for Girls’ Rights in Wales here.