Young Women and VAWG
Despite violence being an issue that can affect all women at any age, it’s immensely prominent amongst young women. The United Nations defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women…”.
A lot of the time young women and girls are told to brush inappropriate misconduct off as a laugh or to be expected, but this can be extremely damaging and may start to place unrealistic expectations into the minds of younger girls. As a young woman, it can be extremely unsettling to think that I won’t be protected and that no-one has our safety at the forefront of their mind. Research from the Young Women’s Movement, ‘Young Women Lead’, found that I’m not alone in these thoughts. 49% of girls they consulted were not confident an incident of sexual harassment would be well handled by the school, with 51% believing their school would be ineffective.
With it being shown that young girls already expect their schools to not take any initiative in tackling these problems, it’s important that we open up the discussion and educate every single person on violence against young girls so that the first signs of the problem can be tackled. UNWomen have stated that: “Taboos around gender-based violence provide perpetrators with impunity and prevent women and girls from getting the help they need: less than 40 per cent of women who experience violence seek help of any sort.”. It can therefore be said that by not talking about violence against women and girls, the issues associated will never be addressed, while also preventing those affected from coming forward to report abuse.
There are many organisations however, along with laws, that aim to protect the young women of Scotland. More and more support is increasing awareness around violence against women and girls, like the creation of the Equally Safe programme, which was developed by the Scottish Government and COSLA, providing funding to projects that advocate for the protection of women and girls. It aims to achieve mutual respect among everyone in Scottish society, and for women and girls to thrive as equal citizens culturally, economically and politically. The programme will help to educate everyone and provide support to health and wellbeing in schools, so that young girls know to expect respect. This highlights that our Scottish Government is paying attention to these life-changing issues, wanting to make change, reassuring me that our government want to play a key role in protecting the lives of young women and girls.
Author - Grace Lennon, high school pupil
Scottish Government and COSLA. (2018). Equally Safe: Scotland’s Strategy to Eradicate Violence Against Women. Available at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/equally-safe-scotlands-strategy-prevent-eradicate-violence-against-women-girls/documents/
UNWomen. (2022). Push Forward: 10 Ways to End Violence Against Women. Available at: https://www.unwomen.org/en/news-stories/feature-story/2022/11/push-forward-10-ways-to-end-violence-against-women
Young Women’s Movement. (2018). Young Women Lead Committee: Report on Sexual Harassment in Schools. Available at: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/6413232bf29ba901ed614415/t/6436814576df1c11269a569d/1681293639304/YWL+17-18.pdf