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Equality Work with Young Women

BackgroundEquality Work with Young Women Background

YouthAction Northern Ireland has a long history of improving equality for girls and young women in Northern Ireland. Young women have been under-represented in the youth sector and have been discriminated against in a range of personal, social and economic settings. Between 1979 and 1984 work with girls and young women became integral to the Agency.

Conferences for girls and young women were held annually and training, support, resources and publications such as "Waiting Our Turn" were also offered to those working with young women. In 1984, funding was received from the Department of Education for Northern Ireland for the first training post to develop work with girls and young women.

A major review of the Youth Sector was undertaken in 1986 amid concerns about the lack of participation among young women in society in general and the Youth Sector in particular. It became increasingly evident that young women were not using the service to the same extent as young men and when they did attend, they were often on the periphery of the activity.

Equality Work with Young Women Background

Kate Campbell held the first post of Development Officer for Work with Young Women. She remembers:

 "YouthAction Northern Ireland was the leading organisation pioneering this work and supporting other organisations to develop their practice. The agency was the first to raise the issue of equality for girls and young women and to fight for the recognition for this vital work, convincing the Department of Education for Northern Ireland to provide resources. Funding for the full-time training post in 1984 and the research that followed in 1988 demonstrate how innovative YouthAction Northern Ireland was in pioneering this work."

YouthAction Northern Ireland continued to set aims and targets to affect change in awareness, attitudes, resources and youth work practice. Links were developed with the University of Ulster's youth work training and the Education and Library Board's training for youth workers. Accredited course developed for women such as "Women in Management" and the "Towards Equality" course was designed for both female and male workers towards anti-sexist youth work practice. Furthermore, funding was secured for research into the "Equality of Opportunity for Girls and Young Women in the Full-Time Sector of the Northern Ireland Youth Service" which was presented in 1990.

The findings from this confirmed the scale of a male orientated and male dominated youth service and found that girls began to leave provision as early as thirteen years old. A series of recommendations for policy, practice and training provided a strategy not only for YouthAction Northern Ireland but also for the statutory and voluntary Youth Sector. This training, policy and community-based work continues to the present day.

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