Hello, we are Dottie and Susi, two Oxfam Youth Ambassadors from Sir John Lawes School in Hertfordshire. Today we have been attending the Young Lives conference on Adolescence, Youth and Gender at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford.
Dottie went to a session on boys and masculinity while Susi was at a talk on programmes in humanitarian situations. As a girl, the talk on male stereotyping across the world provided an insight into the issue of gender inequality from a different perspective. There was a fascinating focus on the social perceptions of manhood and what makes someone masculine. It was exciting to hear how some men are trying to overcome the stereotype of violence and physical strength by finding different ways of representing their gender. For example, in Columbia some young men are finding new ways to express themselves and their thoughts through hip hop dance and music.
The other talk made me, Susi, curious to learn more about the effect of humanitarian crises on people’s wellbeing. I had never considered the long-term mental impact on young people who have grown up in war torn countries such as Syria. The speakers were taking a scientific and research-based approach to learning about people’s lives and emotions. We learnt that the issue of gender inequality is not two segregated issues of male and female but one problem that we can all play a part in solving.
We ended the day by interviewing Patience Ekeoba on her work in Nigeria combating gender inequality amongst young people in a programme called Voices for Change. She was a voice of experience on engaging all members of the community in such a crucial issue. Her motivation has driven us to work on involving both genders in all future campaigns at our school which is something we currently struggle with. She expressed her frustration at slow progress made by her government at both a federal and state level which is a feeling we share in the UK when working with our government. We were surprised to hear that Patience had also worked with teachers, religious leader and parents, achieving positive support for her cause.