5 ways youth can help end gender inequality on International Youth Day

Since 1999, the United Nations General Assembly has selected the 12th August to be International Youth Day (IYD). This day recognises that young people worldwide can and do challenge the injustices and inequalities in our world.

IYD is a great time to get involved with an issue like gender inequality. From reading online sources to taking courses, by ensuring you’re knowledgeable about gender equality, you can effectively tackle it. So here’s a few simple gender issues you can get involved with to begin tackling this huge problem.

1. Education

Girls education in emergencies [Photo credit: Send my friend to school]

Girls education in emergencies [Photo credit: Send my friend to school]

Around the world, millions of girls are being denied an education with over two thirds of illiterate people being female. Educating girls can reduce the gender pay gap, reduce child marriage and teenage pregnancies, and ultimately save lives.

Just this month UK Government joins forces Global Citizen + CHIME FOR CHANGE to host the Girls’ Education Forum. You can still get involved with related campaigns such as #SheWill to help protect the UK Aid budget and getting your current or past schools to sign up for ‘Send My Friend to School’.

2. Female Genital Mutilation

FGM, also known as female genital cutting or female circumcision, involves the removal of the external parts of the genitals. Causing both physical and emotional trauma, this devastating process occurs in cultures around the world. In the UK alone it is estimated that 65,000 girls under the age of 13 are at risk of FGM.

So what can you do? Well, there are many survivor-led organisations such as ‘Safe Hands for Girls’ that you can support. Importantly you can raise awareness of the issues surrounding FGM by joining the #WhyZeroFGM campaign.

3. Menstruation

Image for Plan's menstruation matters campaign [CREDIT: PLAN INTERNATIONAL]

Image for Plan's menstruation matters campaign [CREDIT: PLAN INTERNATIONAL]

Periods are a pain for girls everywhere, but in some places it can also be a health risk. The BBC estimates that 70% of all reproductive diseases in India are caused by poor menstrual hygiene, which in turn is related to the stigma and cultural taboos around menstruating. In Kenya, girls on average miss 5 days of school each month because of their period. In Nepal, women are placed in dangerous situations by being forced to sleep in sheds while menstruating.

You can support charities that supply women with sanitary products such as fundraising for Afripads, a social business in Uganda that manufactures and sells cost-effective reusable sanitary pads. Equally you can support campaigns that educate girls on reproductive health and tackle taboos through grassroots organisations. Through supporting education and empowerment, this issue can easily disappear in a generation.

4. Child Marriage

Each year over 15 million girls face child marriage. Girls who marry before the age of 18 are more likely to have a poor education and poor sexual health as well as having a higher mortality rate and higher risk of abuse.

Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of over 600 civil societies dedicated to ending child marriage. You can take action through sharing, campaigning and acting now. Similarly, you can sign the Youth for Change petition to amend the Child Marriage law in Tanzania.

5. Gender-based violence & harassment

Current estimates suggest that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner with this number increasing even up to 70% in some national studies. Furthermore 1 in 3 women experience violence from a partner despite the UN General Assembly declaring the elimination of violence against women as a pandemic over 20 years ago.

This is not only extremely damaging for women but affects their entire quality of life prompting the campaign #LearnWithoutFear. The #EducatetoEradicate and #RightToKnow targets many gender issues through education including honour based violence.

Make change happen!

As you can see, many of the gender issues are inter-related. They often manifest through a cycle of inequality, with significant repercussions for society as a whole. Whether you’re blogging, donating, tweeting, or just learning, make sure you’re doing something for gender equality this International Youth Day!