Amsterdam - 2011-5-09 - 5 PM - Empowering young women: How do we do it?

Three groups of delegates to the first Decisions for Life International Young Women’s Conference in Amsterdam debated three crucial topics concerning empowerment in life and in work. Their final presentations were based on their experiences as campaign workers and activists who have been operating in the field across continents.

How to reach out to young women and find out what they want?

  • Personal contact – this allows young women to come together and discuss issues that are important to them. Informal gatherings, such as tree planting or karaoke sessions or sushi-making parties, for example, are a good way to break down barriers and create trust. It makes it easier to then have more serious discussions.
  • ICT – using the internet, social networking sites and focused websites such as the Wage Indicator to make contact and provide information.
  • Collecting statistical data – getting accurate data which can be used to empower young women workers. An example would be the Salary Checks which are on Wage Indicator sites, which provide free salary figures across a range of work sectors.

How to empower young women to make informed decisions about finding a job, combining work and family, and saying no to sexual and moral harassment?

Finding work:

  • Working with students, so that when they enter the workforce they are already informed about unions and their workplace rights.
  • Using information markets, where job seekers can attend discussions and learn about unions and their workplace rights.
  • Making contact with Human Resources departments, so they can work hand in hand with trade unions and forge practical partnerships that empower employees.

Work/family balance:

  • Creating creches so children have a safe space while mothers work.
  • Providing assistance for children to attend school. It is important for mothers to know their children are well taken care of while they are at work.
  • Providing medical assistance as a support system.

Sexual and moral harassment:

  • Educating men – so that they are aware of what sexual harassment actually is, and that it is not acceptable.
  • Educating women – so they know what situations could potentially lead to sexual harassment.
  • Listening to women who have suffered harassment, so that one provide support and also learn from their situations.

How to empower young women to be confident to take action, to become activists and leaders?

  • Direct contact – through informal training, cosy chats, motivational talks.
  • Internet – using social media and websites such as the Wage Indicator websites which provide free, accessible and relevant work and life information for young women.
  • Mentorships – providing a safe space for young women to grow and develop.

Thousands of 'Young Women' reached through the Decisions for Life campaign

Angola 109 70 0 179
Mozambique 296 36 0 332
South Africa 606 1840 2554 5000
Zambia 83 21 0 104
Zimbabwe 16 637 0 653
Brazil 1199 60 5170 6429
India 94 1015 3500 4609
Indonesia 254 81 1000 1335
NIS Countries
Azerbaijan 408 360 172 940
Belarus 2314 5380 68000 75694
Kazakhstan 1186 0 640 1826
Ukraine 649 68 550 1267
TOTAL 7214 9568 81586 98368