Feminism: a Guide for Young Women

In many countries, despite the presence of strong feminist movement, there are still many girls and young women who try to distance themselves from the word ‘feminist’.

Many understand the lingering problems of inequality, but feminism forces us to critically analyze our entire reality. It asks us to rethink our friends, our family, our schools, our workplaces. It’s no wonder so many girls and young women feel confused when they are first confronted with feminism. And as more experienced feminists, we have to be there for them. Here are 5 ideas about feminism I’d like to pass to the next generation.

No, we do not hate your dad/brother/boyfriend.

This is probably the most sensitive point for many girls and young women. Once they hear feminists talking about patriarchy, the counter-argument is usually something like: “the men I know are nothing like that – they are good men!”

That’s great! Most men are not rapists or perpetrators of violence. When feminists criticize structures in society, they are not pointing their finger at individual men and asking them to atone for their sins. They are recognizing that, despite the fact that most men do not commit acts of violence, the ones who do thrive in a system of impunity.

And many men do not realize the extent of domestic or sexual violence because women and girls who have been victimized do not usually tell their dads/brothers/boyfriends – they confide in other women. So, while I personally know many women and girls who have suffered sexual assault, our mutual male friends would probably say they don’t know any victims.

If you think the men in your life are pro-equality and make great feminist allies, fantastic! But remember not all women and girls have that same privilege. We need to acknowledge their experiences as well. 

Violence against women and girls is a major issue – but it’s not the only one.

When talking to girls and young women today, it can seem as though feminism is completely equated with ending rape culture. And although that is an important focus of contemporary feminist activism, feminism is about more than that. Feminist thought is applicable to economics, international relations, environmentalism, sports, psychology, artificial intelligence…to every area of our lives.

My generation is facing a climate crisis and we are the product of one the worst recessions in living memory. Feminist concepts such as care economics or gender-budgeting could prove a useful weapon to defend women’s rights and also a better economic and social system. We need to mainstream these concepts so younger feminists can take them further in the future.

It’s okay to have doubts.

Many girls and young women feel like they can’t share their doubts in online feminist communities or offline gatherings. They are afraid to go against feminist dogmas and so they keep their doubts to themselves until they quietly disappear from the movement.

But it shouldn’t be like this. It’s okay to have doubts. Most feminist issues are difficult and complex – the gender pay gap, for example, leads to hard conversations about work life balance, workers’ rights and inequality within the family. 

No one is born with the answers to every single problem that affects women. And that is fine. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and voice your uncertainties.

There’s more to feminist activism than protests and hashtags.

Online movements and physical protests are, and will remain, important components of feminist activism for the 21st century. But there is so much more we can do!

Start a feminist book club. Create safe spaces for women to discuss their issues. Write blogs and articles about feminist concepts and ideas. Campaign for free childcare in your city. Ask a local women’s organization to come to your school/university. Volunteer at a women’s shelter. Ask for bookstores in your city or neighborhood to feature more books by women – especially feminist women. Listen to interviews with women who have been change-makers for the rest of us – particularly those who are less well knowm.

If protests and social media are not your thing, think about your skills and what you like to do and then examine how you can use them to build a movement

Feminism = Solidarity.

This is perhaps the most important point. Feminism should be guided by ethics of solidarity and sisterhood. As a feminist, you should feel as if you are part of a global community who will support you and have your back. We are all in this together!

Bellamy on Amplifying the Voices of Afroitalians

For the second episode of We Belong Podcast, we take you to Milan, Italy – the country currently worst affected by the coronavirus. We recorded a special remote interview with Bellamy, a model, blogger, activist and the founder of Afroitalian Souls.

Bellamy was born and raised in Italy in a half Ugandan and half Sudanese family. Her interests range from fashion and skincare to international politics. She became increasingly passionate about socio-cultural issues, particularly on the experience of the black body in different countries. While researching this, she felt called to take action in Italy.

With her friend Grazia, she created Afroitalian Souls: a digital platform that promotes the excellence of the African diaspora in Italy while simultaneously bringing awareness to the endless social and racial issues they face.

In our conversation with Bellamy, we discuss the impact of Covid-19 in Italy, the structural and cultural forms of violence that black Italians face, and how she uses sarcasm and style to amplify the voice of Afroitalians on social media.

Episode available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Anchor, Youtube and at the bottom of this post.


We Belong is the podcast that gives a voice to the New Daughters of Europe.  Yasmine Ouirhrane, appointed expert by the European Union and the African Union, will host this series of conversations with young women representing the diversity of Europe. She will travel and meet women who are breaking stereotypes, navigating multiple identities, and challenging the conventional wisdom of what it means to belong. 

As an advocate for social and gender justice in Europe, Yasmine Ouirhrane was awarded Young European of the Year 2019 by the Schwarzkopf Foundation. She was also named EDD Young Leader by the European Commission and is an expert on Peace & Security at the AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub, mandated by the EU and the AU. She is an award-winning fellow at Women Deliver and a member of the Gender Innovation Agora at UN Women.

The Podcast is produced by Les Cavalcades.

Follow us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

The Cost of Sharing My Mental Health Story

Here at Girls’ Globe, we believe that storytelling is a way to bring about real change in the world. It’s something I believe in wholeheartedly. 

However, there is one issue in particular that I have written extensively about. I sometimes wonder if I should actually write about it. What are the real costs of doing so for me and the people in my life?

The issue is mental health.

The internet – social media in particular – has made talking about our mental health struggles easier and more accessible than ever before. Without leaving our homes, which we may be bound to due to anxiety or depression, we can share our experiences, read others’ stories, and connect with people who understand our struggles. We can feel, even if just a little, less alone.

Sharing publicy about issues that are still taboo and stigmatized in modern society can come with costs and consequences. Online trolls are always ready to dismiss or doubt our experiences, struggles and accounts of what has happened to us. 

Ever since I wrote my first post about my mental health on girlsglobe.org over two years ago, I’ve questioned my decision to be so open in such a public way about something I’ve hidden from others my whole life.

And then I wrote about it again – and then again and again and again. I wrote publicly, on the internet, for all to see. I also started sharing my mental health struggles on social media – sometimes just to my friends and at other times more widely.


Every time I press ‘send’, I feel a wave of anxiety but also a sense of relief.

On the one hand, writing publicly about my mental health struggles has been incredibly healing. It has helped me connect with others who are also struggling. I’ve received heart-warming comments from people thanking me for talking about something so stigmatized and telling me that my experience resonates with them.

On the other, writing about my struggles with anxiety and depression make me feel vulnerable and I fear people’s reaction. I fear what people who know me personally may think about me, since they’ll usually see me looking and acting so ‘well’ and ‘normal’.

I fear that sharing my personal stories of mental illness may harm my academic and work life, and even personal relationships.

What if a future date looks me up online, reads one of my mental health stories, and decides he doesn’t want to go out with me anymore? What are the costs of giving someone I’m still getting to know in person access to such a deep and intimate glimpse into my life online?

People have told me I’m brave and strong for being so honest and open about my mental health. This has been crucial to my healing. To talk about my anxiety and depression as something outside of myself has helped me realize that I’m more than my mental health issues (even though I still struggle to fully accept this).

But talking about it is still hard.

I still worry about how sharing my struggles may affect my life. Will it cost me friendships and romantic relationships? Will it cost me respect from colleagues and employers?

I don’t have a concrete answer, but I do know this: I want to live in a world where sharing our struggles about mental health or any other issue considered stigmatized will be accepted and respected. I want to be around people who accept vulnerability as a strength and not a weakness.

Most of all, I want to live what I say. And so, scared and all, I’ll keep sharing my story, because it’s one of the ways I’ve been healing. And maybe, reading my story may help someone in their healing journey. That makes all the costs feel worth it.

Women’s March 2019: Same Photos, Different Story

On Saturday 9th March, 15,000 people attended the Women’s March in Amsterdam. They braved icy bullets of rain and gusts of furious winds to take to the streets. Despite the grim weather, the atmosphere was electric.

Women, men and children from all walks of life joined in the songs of solidarity. Their voices echoed off the facades of old Amsterdam houses. The inclusivity of the march was bolstered by slogans such as ‘2019 is not just about women’ and  ‘all oppression is connected’.

Messages ranged from #BlackLivesMatter to #TransLivesMatter, and from welcoming refugees to questioning the ethics of male circumcision at birth. There were signs about closing both the wage gap and the orgasm gap. People called out the need to change perspectives on gender and to tackle climate change.

It was a beautiful blur of colour, intersectionality and communal cheer.

And yet, when I Google ‘Women’s March 2019’, hits from popular websites portray the march in a very specific way. Much can be said about the language used in the most negative articles. I am particularly interested, however, in the merit of using sensationalized images in coverage of events like the Women’s March.

It becomes immediately apparent when browsing through articles that the diversity of photographs is not extensive. In many cases, the same handful of images are being used. The Dutch photo service ANP appears to be the source of these continually reused images.

The photos carry important messages for the feminist movement. They share a common focus on the female body and, possibly, on criticism of the Madonna-whore Complex. Three of the most-used pictures show women with barely concealed or totally exposed breasts. In one, a woman refers to herself as a ‘slut’. Another warns Rutte, the current Prime Minister of the Netherlands, not to ‘f*ck with these c*nts’.

The messages put forth by these women are important. They are about our right to agency over our bodies – to do what we want, wear what we want, and own our sexuality. They’re also about our right not to be constantly sexualised simply because we exist in female bodies.

The repeated use of a few specific images have caused them to become sensationalized as the collective face of the 2019 Women’s March.

What does this collective face portray? It could lead many to conclude that the march was attended primarily by ‘free the nipple’ type feminists. But this is only one of the many components of the feminist movement as a whole, and of this event in particular. It’s a far cry from the intersectional ideology of the march.

Diverse use of images in the media is important.

Falling into the trap of using the same mass-circulated pictures is easily done. It’s often the easiest, quickest option. But in the spirit of the 2019 Women’s March, and of intersectionality and diversity, here are some photos from the march which I think are more representative:

One of the organizers of the Netherlands Women’s March 2019.
A young man challenges the now infamous phrase ‘boys will be boys’.
A woman holds a sign showing balled fists of all colours – a visual indication of intersectional feminism.
The rainbow flag, a symbol for the LGBTQ community, was donned by many attendees.
‘I am a sick feminist’. Many people with illnesses and disabilities were in attendance too.

When covering actions for equality in the media, whether in major publications or on personal blogs, it’s important to use the diversity and choice available to us. Sensationalised images are tempting to re-use because of their recognisable quality and virality. However, every face in the crowd on 9 March mattered, and so did every photograph taken.

We have to ask ourselves: what is the story we want to tell?

Photos by Scarlett Bohemian photography

Like this post? Try these…

In Conversation with Christine Sayo

Christine Sayo is a sexual and reproductive health and rights advocate from Kenya. In this conversation with Girls’ Globe, she talks about feeling judged by others for simply talking openly about issues related to sex.

“The community looks at you as a deviant, as someone who is going against the norm.”

The good news, though, is that Christine is seeing a shift in attitudes thanks to globalization and increased access to information from different channels.

“Having information coming in from different sources has helped to destigmatize some of these issues around sexual and reproductive health in young people.”

This video was made possible through a generous grant from SayItForward.org in support of women’s advocacy messages.

If you liked this post, we think you’ll love our interviews with KingaWinfredScarlett, Natasha, Tasneem and Beverly, too!

Addressing Cyber Violence and Harassment

Orange Day – a day to take action to raise awareness and prevent violence against women and girls”, is celebrated on 25th of the month, according to UN Women. July 2017’s Orange Day Action Theme was cyber violence against women.

To mark the day, UN Women hosted a panel moderated by Emily Mahaney, Senior Editor at Glamour Magazine. Panelists were Feminista Jones, a writer, activist, survivor of cyber violence, and creator of the hashtag #YouOKSis; Emily May, Co-founder and Executive Director of Hollaback!; and Jamia Wilson, Press Executive Director and Publisher at CUNY Feminist.

Research published this year showed that in the US:

  • 70% of US adults surveyed who identify as women say that “online harassment is a ‘major problem’”, compared to 54% of those surveyed who identify as men.
  • 41% of American adults said that they have experienced some form of online harassment, which the survey defined as “offensive name-calling, purposeful embarrassment, physical threats, stalking, sexual harassment, or harassment over a sustained period of time”.
  • Even though both sexes reported experiencing cyber violence, women reported a worse experience: 34% of them experienced their latest incident as “extremely” or “very” upsetting, versus 16% of men reporting the same.

At its core, the internet is another public space where women can experience forms of violence or harassment, similar to catcalling on the street or inappropriate touching on a subway. To improve the online experience for all, Jamia Wilson suggested that online etiquette should be taught early on, both at schools and at home, and that adults should instruct children how to behave respectfully online, just as they teach children how to behave in public spaces

Emily Mahaney asked the panelists perhaps the most burning question we all have about cyberviolence and harassment: who perpetrates these acts of cyber violence, and what is their motivation? 

Feminsta Jones answered that the perpetrators are usually men who feel injured by women in some way, such as rejection from a woman in their lives or having been cheated on by their partners, and harassing women online is a way for them to channel their resentment. In terms of motivation, all panelists mentioned two things: power and dominance. May mentioned that it’s hard to pinpoint a perpetrator’s identity exactly, but that their real identity is not as important as the identity they assume online, which is usually that of a white, cisgender, and heterosexual man.

It might be logical to think that most perpetrators of cyber violence and harassment will do so anonymously or using a fake identity, but Jones mentioned that she has been attacked by people using their real pictures and names.

Although the violence and harassment are ‘virtual’, the consequences are very real. Being a victim of harassment and cyber violence can cause serious psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, and even PTSD and suicidal thoughts. Jones, for example, shared that she suffers from agoraphobia after experiencing cyber violence and harassment.

Cyber violence and harassment can indeed affect the victim’s life offline, especially when threats include rape or physical violence. Victims may feel the need to change their phone numbers and address, as well as becoming wary of being online again. Because consequences can impact a person’s offline life, Wilson talked about the importance of therapy for victims in their recovery process.

On how to help victims, May suggested that if we see someone suffering cyber violence or harassment, we should acknowledge the victim, whether through a comment or private message, even if that person is a stranger to us. To end the panel, Mahaney asked the panelists to identify one positive thing we can all do change this environment of cyber violence and harassment and to support each other. Wilson encourages us to speak up and share our stories if we have been a victim ourselves. May encourages us to remember that there are people out there that have your back and don’t forget to have the backs of others. Jones’ advice was simple but powerful: ask people if they’re ok.

If you have experienced some form of cyber violence and/or harassment – or know someone who has – visit iheartmob.org for help and support.