LISTENING TO GIRLS’ EXPERIENCES
“I feel like the government should push a lot more for STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] programmes from even as little as primary school. In terms of just teaching girls that you can go into any field whatsoever.” – Esther, 20, Wales
Our insights report highlights some of the lived experiences of girls and young women in Wales, before and during the coronavirus pandemic. Visit our interactive map to discover more stories.
GIRLS’ LIVES IN WALES
Our report offers the most comprehensive research into the state of girls’ rights in Wales, revealing that:
- Girls are fed up and frustrated with empty words of ‘female empowerment’. They’re told they can succeed, but they face a threat to their safety in public, online and in schools. They’re told to feel confident in their bodies, but they’re judged and scrutinised on every aspect of their appearance. They’re told gender equality has been achieved and yet they don't feel represented or heard in public life.
- Girls don’t feel safe in public. They’re dealing with relentless public sexual harassment and changing their behaviour to avoid being targeted. It affects their mental health, self-esteem, sense of safety, and seriously impinges on their right to equal access to public space.
- Sexism and harassment in school is rife. Outdated gender stereotypes and sexism are shaping girls’ school experience, from the subjects they choose and the jobs they’re encouraged towards to their experience of school sports. Coronavirus has also significantly impacted girls’ experience of and access to education and some girls told us they’re concerned about their opportunities in the future.
- Girls care deeply about political issues, but spoke of feeling unheard in politics and being bullied for identifying as feminists. The lower voting age in Wales will enable more girls to participate in the democratic process – however not all girls are willing to vote due to feeling that ‘no one listens anyway’.
A NEW FOCUS ON GIRLS’ RIGHTS
We want to see a new focus on girls’ rights across Wales. To help achieve gender equality, we:
- must make all places safe for girls – no exceptions
- must remodel girls’ experience of education
- must raise girls’ voices
- must stop controlling girls’ bodies
- need better data
- must advance the rights of all girls.
That’s why we’re launching a new Girls' Rights Network in Wales, to bring together professionals, volunteers, sector experts and organisations to share best practice, advocate for change and create a better Wales for girls and young women.