The voices, perspectives and experiences of young women are so important in the feminist movement. Exploring the particular issues young women face, as well as incorporating their thoughts and views into core policies is a crucial part of NWCI’s work.
Much of our work with young women is rooted in the growing concern over how women are portrayed in the media, the culture of over-sexualising women, and how this perpetuates unrealistic ideas of ‘beauty’, undermining confidence and self-esteem. In a world where a woman’s appearance is highly valued, there is a growing body of evidence that links negative body image to a reluctance to undertake everyday activities, such as speaking out or showing leadership. Alongside body image, issues such as street harassment and gender stereotypes can also be barriers to young women’s equality.
Because of the significant absence of women in traditional leadership roles, women are largely absent in the media and in young women’s everyday lives. It is essential that young women recognise their own existing capacity to lead, while also building on that capacity even further. Young women must be encouraged and inspired to take on leadership roles, while also having the confidence to challenge those currently in leadership positions.
Throughout the year, NWCI hold workshops with young women on a wide range of issues that are important to them. In the workshops, we also provide media training and public speaking training. These workshops build up to a major #FemFest conference for young women, on issues such as leadership, body image and street harassment. #FemFest is a fun and engaging space about young women and for young women, combining passionate and dynamic speakers of all ages, with musicians and artists both new and emerging.
As well as being a fun and inspiring day combining panel discussions with creative performance, and points for activism and engagement, FemFest is an important opportunity to explore and raise awareness of the issues affecting young women in Ireland today. By helping to plan the event, and through several important inputs on the day, FemFest empowers young women to use their own voice and agency by asking them to set practical objectives on how to address these issues into the future.