11 October is marked as the International Day of the Girl. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. Every year on this day Eltham Hill holds its Young Women’s Conference. Speakers and workshop helped highlight issues faced by girls.
Our speakers included Gabby Edlin (founder of Bloody Good Period) Amaal Said, (Artist and Poet), Dave Myers (Joint Head of the Forced Marriage Unit) and Aimee Challenor (Stonewall Trans Advisory Group).
Gabby Edlin spoke to our girls about period poverty. Sanitary towels are quite expensive and when you are on a low budget can be difficult to afford. Her charity Bloody Good Period collects donations of sanitary products and gives them out to those in need, such as refugees and asylum seekers. Gabby also led a workshop with students that look at the attitudes and stigma surrounding menstruation particularly focusing how sanitary products are advertised.
Amaal Said spoke about her experience as a Somali poet and photographer. She said she refuses to be typecast as, ‘the woman of colour’, and talked about owning the term, ‘artist’ as a second generation Somali woman. The workshop she led focused on representation of Muslim women and women of colour in poetry and visual arts. Students created their own poem using photographs as a stimulus.
Dave Myers, from the Forced Marriage Unit, explained what constitutes as Forced Marriage and how to identify potential victims. The Forced Marriage Unit states that Forced marriage is when you face physical pressure to marry (for example, threats, physical violence or sexual violence) or emotional and psychological pressure (eg if you’re made to feel like you’re bringing shame on your family).
Aimee Challenor talked about her experiences as a young transwoman and explained the work that the Stonewall Trans Advisory Group is doing to aid and amplify trans voices. Aimee, along with Ms Zionts, led a workshop that examined whether transwomen were included enough in current feminist movements and led discussions on how we could work to promote more inclusive notions of feminism.
Further workshops were led by Eltham Hill staff and explored issues relating to intersectionality, representation of women in the media, the politics and standards of afro hair, and the power of language.