Young Women, Young Leaders
Equitas - International Centre for Human Rights Education Organization
Through a participatory process (training, workshops and community action), YWYL empowers young women, from diverse backgrounds, to take on leadership roles in countering discriminatory attitudes and behaviors, and promoting inclusion, respect and acceptance in communities.
This process includes:
• creating opportunities and spaces for young women from diverse backgrounds to come together during capacity building workshops to explore needs and motivation;
• learn about human rights;
• map issues in their community;
• deepen knowledge on issues;
• develop concrete leadership skills;
• design and deliver action projects;
• engage with decision makers and;
• evaluate success.
Equitas’ expertise is in designing and delivering human rights education projects that build the capacity of individuals and organizations to engage in their communities and take action for social change.
YWYL supports young women’s active participation through a community action process that builds skills and knowledge over months, culminating in concrete actions in the community that address discrimination and promote positive race relations. It creates spaces for meaningful dialogue between young women from diverse backgrounds, mentors, decision makers and the media to dismantle barriers to participation like stereotypes, discrimination or lack of access to information/resources.
“It’s important for us to take part in the decisions that affect us. Not to just let others decide for us, but to be included in the communities we live in. With the skills that I have acquired, it’s led me to become a leader in my community and my own life. Are we better at planning? Absolutely. Are we better at speaking, communicating? Absolutely. Are we better at understanding what we’re doing, having a clear vision, and being able to voice it? Absolutely. I’m committed to the project. I see that we can actually have decision makers on board for what we do. It’s a really rewarding project and being part of Equitas is one of the best things that I can say that I have done.” Young Women Leaders in Winnipeg.
Making a Difference:
Young Women, Young Leaders supported 120 young women leaders to take action to counter racism, inequality, and discrimination across Canada. Since 2012, Equitas has delivered 100 human rights and leadership workshops with the participation of newcomer, refugee, racialized, and Aboriginal young women. Equitas has organized 12+ community events to raise awareness about barriers to participation (including systemic racism and discrimination) and inspired and engaged more than 5000 community members in dialogue about these issues in Canadian communities. 7 new educational resources were developed to support this process, and strengthen collaboration among 15 organizations working with diverse young women in 9 communities.
It can be challenging to recruit newcomer, refugee, racialized and Aboriginal young women to participate in community spaces where they don’t see themselves represented or feel like they belong. Having strong partnerships was crucial to overcoming this obstacle. It was important for us to design tools that started with young women’s own experiences and needs and then provided them with skills to identify common issues they wanted to take on within their community. Having dynamic women leaders from diverse backgrounds as mentors, and peer to peer support was crucial to the success of this program.
Vision for the Future:
Supporting more young women to initiate action projects that create dialogue and ensure that voices, so often excluded, are heard. Best practices and strategies for increasing young women’s leadership to combat racism, discrimination, and inequality are being shared between communities, in our online community, through social media, and during training with Equitas partners globally.
The program helped to challenge existing attitudes, behaviors and practices and generated several action points for addressing inequalities in case treatment.
Equitas is a Canadian non-profit organization with 50 years’ experience using human rights education to advance equality, social justice and respect for human dignity in Canada and globally. Our work is deeply rooted in the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and core to our existence is the promotion of fairness, inclusion, respect for diversity, acceptance, cooperation, and responsibility.