Young women are marking the anniversary of suffrage with new ideas of their own

14 December 2019

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Last year marked an important democratic milestone – 100 years since some women in the UK were given the right to vote.

Aiming to capture the spirit of equality and rights for women, UK Youth’s EmpowHER programme was established on the centenary of women’s suffrage.

Funded by Spirit of 2012 and the #iwill Fund, EmpowHER is delivered by UK Youth in partnership with the British Red Cross (BRC) and the Young Women’s Trust. The programme supports and encourages young women and girls to use their voices for positive change, giving a new generation of girls the opportunity to be heard.

EmpowHER in Action

Young people are one of the most underrepresented groups. Only 64% of 18 to 24-year olds were on the electoral roll at the last general election. By providing inclusive and meaningful social action opportunities, the EmpowHER programme builds young women’s self-esteem and wellbeing and inspires them to become active participants in democracy, lead change in their communities, and learn their voice truly matters.

An EmpowHER group at The House, a youth project based in St Austell delivered by Young People Cornwall, who are Innovators in the UK Movement[GM1],  expressed an interest in wanting to do more about the impact of climate change.

Their youth worker and BRC Youth Engagement Worker introduced them to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) #forclimate and #facesofclimatechange campaigns.

The result

The EmpowHER group responded enthusiastically and made their own short video highlighting small steps we can take to combat climate change. The video was hosted on the British Red Cross’ TikTok channel as part of the IFRC #forclimate campaign and has received over 14,000 views and 700 likes.

After seeing that their message could be spread to such a large audience and receive a positive response, the group witnessed the impact social action could have and were galvanised to do more.

The EmpowHER group went on to take their message to the people of St Austell and volunteered to renovate the Menacuddle Well, a beautiful community-owned space that wasn’t getting the love it deserved.

They discovered the project through one of their youth workers, who was then able to contact the trustees of the site. The trustees were impressed by the girls’ enthusiasm and were very keen to set up a day for the group to work on the gardens, clearing weeds and planting new bulbs, so that their effort would have tangible results next spring.

The girls began the day slightly nervous but came out of their shells as they threw themselves into the work. Their passion for the project was reflected in their hard work and they even put up a picnic table sourced from another youth project which teaches carpentry skills. They wanted to use their voice to show that caring for the environment is something everyone can get involved in and benefit from.

“Hopefully people will look at this and say, if a group of teenagers can do it, why can’t we?” – EmpowHER participant

 “Today is special because this is our space. We can come back in a year when the flowers bloom and say, wow – I did that. We want to change the way people see climate change. Coming here today isn’t just about us. It helps everyone in St Austell, and we want them to get involved with gardening as well.” – EmpowHER participant

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