This year's International Women’s Day theme of embracing equity is something we challenge ourselves to do on a day-to-day basis in our organisation. It is what we invite our partners to do in understanding young women's and girls' experiences of criminal exploitation and violence. And it’s how we can ensure that they are no longer invisible and can live free from harm and abuse.
Today I would particularly like to celebrate the amazing Abianda team who have a tireless pursuit of justice and equity for the young women and girls we work with.
Equity recognises that not everyone starts from the same position, and due to this some may need more than others, or something different, in order to achieve fairness and equality. Young women's’ experiences of sexual violence and other traumas, racism, sexual discrimination, housing instability, health and education inequality, lack of resource and social collateral, for example, are some of the things that contribute to their inequitable starting point.
At Abianda, we view the harm and adversity that young women experience through the lens of systemic inequity, and it is our work to challenge the practice and discourse that upholds this harm.
Working in systems and services that are not designed appropriately for girls and young women, and which can often exacerbate experiences of harm, inequality and discrimination, is exhausting work. Add to that the close proximity to the trauma young women and girls face in the context of criminal exploitation and extra-familial violence, and the work can often feel overwhelming.
Our Practitioners who work directly with young women and girls have the principles of equity and equality laced through their practice and their advocacy. Amplifying young women's and girls' voices, ensuring the barriers they face in accessing services are addressed, and having their human and other legislative rights met, is the core function of our advocacy work.
Our Gender Consultant and Contextual Safeguarding Lead weave their way through the systems and structures that young women and girls navigate - diplomatically, patiently and fearlessly raising awareness and holding professionals to account to ensure that young women and girls can access other services and support that is fit for purpose.
Our team and board members, who work behind the scenes to hold the organisation together, to raise funds to ensure our work can continue, who make sure we don’t deviate from our mission, who support us through the daily challenges that come our way - all have shared values of justice and equity for girls and young women. This is what keeps us going, together.
I am very proud that the Abianda team is a collective of people who, themselves, are so diverse in identity and their personal experiences of equity, are aligned in their ambition and values to disrupt the inequitable systems that young women and girls navigate.
Happy International Women’s Day to all who are part of the daily fight for an equitable society.
Abi Billinghurst, CEO & Founder