The Guardian reports on a recent survey from UK Feminista’s which highlights a new wave of feminist activism springing up amongst young women in the UK. In the article, one young woman, 17-year-old, Isabella Woolford Diaz was reported to have established a feminist girls group at her school in Camden, London.
Despite a growing pessimism about young people and politics in recent years, increasingly young people are expressing a clear engagement with wider politics. The repoliticisation of young people at a time of austerity is perhaps unsurprising. The last major recession in the UK in the 1980s saw a wave of young people involved in student politics, anti nuclear and feminist campaigning, and critical political moments such as the Miners Strike of 1984/85. More recently, in 2003, young people were key to the anti-war campaign in UK. Whilst working in schools in Central London at the time, pupils were organising the group, School Students against the War, and setting off fire alarms, and leaving the premises en masse in order to congregate on Whitehall against the Iraqi invasion. 2011 saw a number of student and school pupil marches and campaigns against the rise in student fees– again with pupils leaving lessons to take to the streets.
The rise of feminist activism for young women comes at a time of recession and austerity, which are hitting young women hard. Cuts to rape crisis services, domestic violence projects, public sector jobs and youth services have all been made. In the UK in recent months, the backbench MP Nadine Dorries’ calls for abstinence only sex-education for girls, and a growing anti-abortion movement bring women’s issues and reproduction rights centre stage. Furthermore, the international rise of the Slutwalk phenomon and more recently, the return of the Dyke march in Central London– the first since the mid 1980s – again made young women activists visible on the streets. The form and shape of this new young feminist movement is only just emerging. Maybe it’s a sign of things to come. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Fin Cullen, GEA Executive