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Challenging gender-based and sexual violence

30 November 2016

AGENDA Postcard

A ground-breaking guide to support young people to raise awareness of gender-based and sexual violence in schools and local communities in Wales has been launched.

AGENDA: A Young People’s Guide to Making Positive Relationships Matter, is Wales – and the UK’s - first national online tool-kit and has been produced in partnership with young people for young people.

Led by Cardiff University and co-produced with NSPCC Cymru/Wales, Welsh Women’s Aid, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales and Welsh Government, AGENDA provides ideas for young people on how they can safely and creatively speak out about and challenge entrenched gender inequalities and gender-based and sexual violence.

A group of young people across Wales helped steer its development and it features 11 case studies on a number of relationship issues, including gender equality, sexual harassment and FGM (Female Genital Mutilation).

“With equalities, diversity, children’s rights and social justice at its heart, AGENDA sees Wales lead the way in listening to, and acting upon, young people’s anger, anxiety and desire to ‘do something’ about the increasingly visible and prevalent experiences of everyday sexism and sexual harassment, in their schools and communities, locally, nationally and globally.”

Professor Emma Renold School of Social Sciences and AGENDA project lead

The subjects addressed by the guide are some of the main concerns of young people contacting the NSPCC-run Childline service. Last year anxiety and worries over friendships and problems at school accounted for more than 33,000 counselling sessions across the UK. In a survey of over 2,000 young people aged 11 – 18 undertaken by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales last year, nearly a third often or almost always felt worried and a nearly a fifth often or almost always felt sad.

From hashtag campaigns and the visual arts to poetry and petitions, AGENDA includes tasks such as What Jars You; in which participants are encouraged to write down issues that ‘jar’ them about inequality and unfairness.

AGENDA Postcard - What jars you?

Highlighting and sharing good work and change-making practices already taking place across Wales, AGENDA is designed to inspire others to get involved and can be adopted by schools or community groups.

Head of NSPCC Cymru/Wales, Des Mannion, said: “This is an extremely significant project that shows Wales leading the way on the big issues affecting our children and young people..."

“AGENDA supports young people’s rights to speak out and gives them a platform to get involved and change the things that matter to them. This guide empowers children to prevent gender-based and sexual violence and provides a number of innovative opportunities which put the focus firmly on positive, healthy relationships.”

Des Mannion Head of NSPCC Cymru/Wales

Professor Emma Renold, Cardiff University added: “AGENDA is the outcome of an innovative co-productive process which has listened to and acted upon children and young people’s own concerns and needs to be actively involved in challenging and changing a ubiquitous culture of everyday sexism and sexual harassment across local and global contexts.

“It’s an innovative tool-kit, and a vital core component of a whole education approach to healthy relationships that is embedded in a gender equalities and a rights-based approach.

“I’m looking forward to developing a suite of training workshops for young people and practitioners, in schools, youth groups and residential settings and across the third sector. Sharing the potential of AGENDA and embedding it in practice, from PSE lessons to the Welsh Baccalaureate is the next step as we move closer towards a whole-education approach to end violence against women and girls, domestic abuse and sexual violence. ”

Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, said: “AGENDA’s biggest strength is that it empowers young people to tackle themselves some of the most pressing issues facing their generation.  Its use should enhance and improve the lives of young people and enable them to become resilient young adults..."

"But the resource is just the start of a well-needed shift in approach to how we deliver education, including within and outside of PSE sessions and in particular, how we deliver sex education. We need to move away from a biology-based approach to one that talks and teaches about healthy relationships.”

Sally Holland Children’s Commissioner for Wales

Eleri Butler, Chief Executive of Welsh Women’s Aid, added: “Children and young people experience high levels of sexism and gender-based violence, with up to 70% of girls aged 11–21 saying that sexism is so widespread it affects most areas of their lives..."

"AGENDA gives the tools to children and young people to start to change this culture of sexism. Children and young people cannot do this on their own."

Eleri Butler Chief Executive of Welsh Women’s Aid

“At Welsh Women’s Aid we work in partnership with specialist services to prevent violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence which deliver training to professionals, education programmes in schools and communities and offer essential and often life-saving support to children and young people affected by violence and abuse. Across Wales we need to join with children and young people to ensure that gender equality is on everyone’s agenda.”

AGENDA will be launched on the 30 November 2016 in the presence of over 100 young people, practitioners and policy makers at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay.

It will support one of the core ingredients of the recently published Welsh Government (2015), ‘Good Practice Guide: A Whole Education Approach to Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence in Wales’.

Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, Carl Sargeant said: “This guide helps children and young people realise the importance of developing trusting relationships. It provides a basis for discussion around all sorts of issues such as sexual harassment and domestic abuse..."

“It is important that children and young people feel they are able to safely speak out about gender inequalities. I am pleased to be able to support the launch of this resource which will give young people the opportunity to have their say and try to change things they feel strongly about.”

Carl Sargeant Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children