In Plan UK’s 2016 ‘The State of Girls’ Rights in the UK’ Middlesbrough was ranked the worst place to grow up a girl in England and Wales with Middlesbrough showing the highest levels of child poverty, teenage conceptions, low academic levels and low life expectancies, so when the 2019-2020 Report was published, it was only right that the voices of ‘boro girls’ were included to be heard. The report discussed the key issues outlined in the 2016 report by quoting how girls from Middlesbrough feel about these issues and discussing wether or not they have experienced them first hand, as well as giving the girls an opportunity the discuss the stereotypical gender roles specifically pinned on the girls. I attended one of the workshops where I was asked a number of questions about how I feel about growing up in Middlesbrough and my experiences. For me it was very important to voice my opinions further than just in the report, that’s why when BBC Tees got in touch after the report was published to talk to me about my opinions on the job opportunities available to me in the local area and what I thought of another recent report published about unemployment rates in my local area, it was important that had my say and my voice was heard.
As well as Plan UK amplifying the voices of girls from Middlesbrough, Girl Kind NE are an organisation working to provide a safe space for girls to use their voices about growing up in the North East. Each year they host a series of workshops giving different groups of girls from across the NE the resources and chances to create pieces of work to represent themselves as individuals, and as representatives of the unheard voices of all the other local girls, in the run up to International Day of the Girl with each group having the opportunity to present their work at an event held on International Day of the Girl. Along with a group of other girls from around Middlesbrough, we worked to create a piece of work to display at the day of the girl event to destroy the bad reputation attached to girls from our area by taking statistics that portrayed the negatives of each local post code, and counteracting with the positive facts and statistics that are not discussed in the media. The day gave me the opportunity to speak to the Newcastle Mayor to voice my opinions, ideas and suggestions of how to make a change for NE girls.
The opportunities to diminish the stigma attached to girls and young women just like me growing up and building a strong powerful image for themselves all over the North East are arising more and more frequently, and it is vital that any given opportunity is seized to show the rest of the country that girls from Middlesbrough and the North East are just as worthy of a voice and an opportunity to be successful.
Check out the State of Girls Rights in the UK report at https://plan-uk.org/file/plan-uk-state-of-girls-rights-report-2020pdf/download?token=42bpRbf8 (19/20) or https://plan-uk.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Resources/Plan-International-UK_The-state-of-girls-rights-in-the-UK-2016.pdf (2016)
… or the Unemployment rates report at https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/alarm-north-east-unemployment-rises-16414942.amp
Or go to https://www.girlkind.co.uk to find out more about Girl Kind NE