Young Women's Views
I was able to accept that that's what happens - it erupts
Young Women Said
Language affects a professional's approach to working with us
Along with consulting with external organisations, our Consultants have been integral in the shaping of Abianda's professional training modules. Consultants' opinions, case studies and quotations have been embedded into our content. This ensures that the organisation is representing the views of young women when communicating the best practice around working with young women and girls affected by 'gangs' and county lines. To bring about a culture shift in the delivery of services, the knowledge and expertise of young women must be respected and understood. We hope that our training content helps professionals access these viewpoints and therefore allow them to challenge unequal dynamics power & oppression and tip the balance of power in favour of young women in their work.
Young Women's Photography Project - In Partnership with the University of Bedfordshire
During the second week of the Elevate program, we would usually develop our own campaigns work. This time round we collaborated with the University of Sussex in an exploration around the concept of 'resistance'.
Resistance in this project meant the ways that people who have been hurt or harmed by others manage to survive and carry on with things, even when things are very hard. Resistance was an exploration of the ways in which young women 'survive' and how that looked individually. This was an opportunity to recognise young people's own strengths and skills - often overlooked by their professional networks. The project was paid for by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
The project invited two professional photographers, Becky Warnock and Natalie Mitchell to train the group on how to take professional pictures. We explored concepts of gender, power and identity through creative and engaging activities and workshops. The young women then spent two independent days planning, envisioning, styling, shooting and hyping one another up.
Resistance was seen as different things by different young women; motherhood, resistance to systemic harm; resistance to stereotypes and statistics, love of self; personal identity.
Three Consultants worked on this idea together, and it will be used in future training courses. Here, they explain the project:
"This idea came from a discussion about things that make us angry. All three Consultants had very similar experiences of cultural pressures from family about what it means to be a woman, as well as pressures from friends and partners and siblings.
We started brainstorming ideas of the journey of the young woman and used our own experiences to decide and root the storyline of the young woman. We wanted to make it obvious that she is told very conflicting and confusing messages from everyone in her life; her parents, her school friends, her mum.
We also wanted to show a positive example of being a young mum because all we get is negative stereotypes as this is very central to our experiences. It was important that we collaborated on the journey on the young women - it was comforting that our experiences have all been very similar; from being treated differently to our male siblings, to cultural pressures. We were all able to contribute experiences of being blamed or shamed for how we presented, or for things that we have done.
One of our Consultants is an excellent illustrator so we decided to make this into a comic book because we wanted it to be accessible to lots of different young women for different ages and abilities and use our own skills to create the resource.
We developed and created a 12 scene storyboard describing the journey of a girl living in London navigating societal, peer, cultural and gender pressures. The story aims to explore the unrelenting pressure for girls and young women to conform to confusing, contradictory and double-standard expectations. These sometimes subtle issues are the root causes of inequalities that make young women vulnerable to exploitation, grooming and harm.
Gendered pressures affect and damage every young girl, from not talking up in class, to doing things you don’t want to because it feels the only option or it’s what’s expected. We believe that the change we can make is raising and educating children differently.
It’s about stopping the cycling of parenting that limits and restricts ideas of girlhood.
It’s about shifting ideas, attitudes and values about what it means to be a man and women and this is what these images show."
During a shadowing session with one of our young women Interns, we focused on exploring what a good professional looks like and what confidentiality looked like to her. The main themes that emerged were the importance of willingness to engage, respecting boundaries and advocating with and for young people.