[Brussels, 11 August 2022] Each year on 12 August, we mark International Youth Day – an opportunity for the world leaders and society as a whole to draw attention to issues concerning young people worldwide.
As the largest umbrella of women’s organisations in Europe, the European Women’s Lobby is once again using this occasion to highlight the work of its members. The struggle to achieve a just, prosperous and feminist Europe requires dedication, passion and a strong will to create space for the next generation of feminists, and the following stories from three young women from the Czech Women’s Lobby show how big of an impact these efforts can accomplish.
Young People Care: Stories of young people who are making a difference
- Agáta | NESEHNUTÍ
I came across my internship and later work in NESEHNUTÍ, an independent social ecological movement and a member of the Czech Women’s Lobby, through my studies in Sociology with a specialization in Gender at the MUNI Faculty of Social Sciences. When choosing an organization where I could do my internship, I was impressed by NESEHNUTÍ’s commitment to social change and also by its non-hierarchical structure that contributes to the realization of the idea of an equal and just society.
I was specifically attracted by the F*ÉRA team, which is mainly dedicated to gender-sensitive education and in which I had the opportunity to learn how to organize workshops in secondary and primary schools on topics such as sex education and violence prevention.
Working with F*ERA allows me to bring social justice and feminist topics closer to the wider public through communication and dialogue. Already in my internship, it has been very meaningful to me that my colleagues have treated me as an equal part of the team, and that this approach is also applied in my interactions with students and pupils in educational workshops. Their feedback, as well as that from my fellow colleagues, continues to inspire and sensitise me. At the same time, this work provides me with the space to contribute my own ideas on gender issues, projects and initiatives.
I started working in the field of gender-sensitive education because it is informal education where gender inequalities and various more or less harmful stereotypes are often reproduced in our society. Negative experiences in this area motivate me to start a dialogue in the school environment about the perceived ideas of femininity and masculinity and to encourage reflection and questioning. In doing so, I see my goal as a process in which people have the space to gain understanding, empathy and respect for each other, regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation or status.
- Tereza | SIMI - Association for Integration and Migration
My name is Tereza and I am a future graduate of the Master’s degree in Gender Studies at FHS UK. For me, feminism does not only mean gender equality, but equality of all human beings and their position in society, which needs to be perceived from an intersectional perspective. It is important to acknowledge that some individuals are more vulnerable than others within disadvantaged social groups.
Thus, as part of my studies, I became interested in the topic of gender in migration and LGBTQ+ migration, which I explored during writing my thesis and my internship at a non-profit organization. As such, I decided to focus on the topic of migration because of my disagreement with discrimination against minority groups in society, racism and xenophobia, which are not only a problem of Czech society, but in my opinion a widely spread worldview.
Therefore, I applied for an internship at SIMI, a member of the Czech Women’s Lobby, where I had the opportunity to participate in activities focused on gender and immigrant women. The combination of my studies and my internship allowed me not only to gain deeper knowledge and use it in my thesis, but also professional practice for the future, through which I am currently gaining new job opportunities. lt includes, for example, my current position at SIMI as an analyst/methodologist and event coordinator on selected projects, the opportunity to go on a business trip to Helsinki, where the ENoMW General Assembly will take place at the end of August, or the chance to host a panel discussion on LGBT + migrants at the Prague Pride conference.
- Alina | SIMI - Association for Integration and Migration
My name is Alina and I moved to the Czech Republic from Russia 4 years ago. Currently, I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Gender Studies at Charles University. My adaptation to the environment of a new country was quite difficult, so as an immigrant I started attending lectures on gender in migration as part of my studies. I was very interested in this topic and wanted to do an internship in one of the organizations that helps immigrant women in the Czech Republic.
That’s how I got to SIMI. A few days before my internship started, Russia invaded Ukraine. This shocked me to such an extent that for the following days I just sat quietly at home and did not communicate with anyone. I had no idea what to do in this situation as a Russian living abroad. However, when the first shock passed, I started to bring humanitarian aid to the fundraisers and, together with other activists, I prepared the newly established accommodation for refugees in Prague.
Around the same time, I was contacted by SIMI since my knowledge of the Russian language was useful for the work with Ukraine refugees. That was the beginning of my experience in the organization. I talked to Ukrainian women, met with them in hotels, and translated important documents for them.
Then I got involved in the Refugees Welcome project, which seeks housing for refugees from Ukraine. I called refugees at the SIMI office and as an interpreter I went with them to see apartments and sign contracts. During those months, I spoke to dozens of women who had fled the war. Their stories shocked me, and after hearing them, I would sometime come home and cry. I heard stories of violence, murder, sexual harassment, bombings, problems finding jobs and schools for their children. This is a rather strange experience, considering that in my home country, on social media and even when talking to friends, I observe a very different narrative of the war.
This article is a part of the International Youth Day 2022 series. For more stories about young feminist engagement from EWL members, please visit this section of our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.