Today marks the official launch of Girls Circle, in celebration of International Day of the Girl 2017.
We were joined by over two hundred professionals, parents and carers and young people at the Senedd, the home of the Welsh Government in a special event sponsored by Assembly Member Julie Morgan.
Our founder, Nikki Giant, opened the event sharing our vision to “Revolutionise the UK in a generation by uplifting girls and young women”.
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales shared her vision to support children and young people’s rights across the country, and explained how schools and youth settings can use the free Agenda resource to promote gender equality in creative ways with young people.
Members of Girls Circle’s Youth Advisory Panel also took to the stage to share their views of growing up as a young woman in Wales. Martha Clarke, Phoebe Howells-Darcy, Maisie Allen, Rachel Marshall, Millie Yule and Rianna Man passionately shared their stories and calls to action with the audience, and encouraged attendees to make pledges to support girls’ rights in Wales.
Girls Circle also launched research into the views and experiences of girls across Wales. Fundamental Rights 2017 aims to paint a picture of the lives of girls and young women living in Wales, highlighting the challenges faced by many, and raising awareness of the need for a better understanding of the issues, increased public attention to the gender inequalities that still exist in Wales, and ultimately action at both a grassroots and strategic level.
Of the 807 respondents completing this survey, only 8% feel there is currently enough support for girls and young women in Wales. The majority of girls (59%) do not feel as though they have the same rights and opportunities as boys and young men, a figure that remains unchanged from last year’s survey.
Despite legislation requiring schools to actively promote equality and address inequalities, the majority of girls and young women have not received any education about gender equality, with over 57% stating they have not been educated about this issue in school or college.
We asked girls what issues they experience, to paint a picture of need and gaps in provision of support for young people across Wales. The main issue of concern is still negative body image, with 89% of girls struggling to feel positively about their physical appearance. Sixty six percent state they are affected by mental health problems in one form or another, perhaps related to the shocking finding that 80% of all girls feeling worried about passing exams, and 76% feeling a pressure to do well and achieve academically.