Young feminists of different civil society organizations from all over the world have come together in solidarity for the 61st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (13-24 March) and the 50th Commission on Population and Development (3-7 April) in New York. In a political climate of increasing conservatism, religious fundamentalism, funding withdrawals and the aggressive rollback of the rights of women and marginalized people, young feminists have gathered to share an alternative vision of a world that respects all genders, upholds gender equality, and places human rights at the core of its mandate. Young feminists, in all their diversities, are the driving force in their communities, building intersectional movements and pushing for political agendas that cross boundaries and advance human rights for all.
“Our issues go beyond women’s rights” says Kesaya Baba of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, ”We are fighting for the recognition of the deep interlinkages between the challenges that we are facing around the world; from environmental destruction, to state-sanctioned violence, to the criminalization of reproductive choice, increased restrictions on civil society space and systemic economic inequalities”.
To capture the diversity and intersections of young people’s movements, and acknowledge the driving force youth can have in creating change, they are taking part in #YoungFeministVisions, a project that pushes young feminists to exercise self reflection, to think both within and beyond their experiences of oppression, and envision what a just and feminist future could really look like. Young people taking part in advocacy spaces at the UN had their portraits taken by New York based photographer Jai Lennard and are looking to share insights into their own activism, the barriers they face, and their visions for the future.
Besides expressing their visions, one of other reasons young feminists started this project was because of the increasing concern regarding the shrinking space for civil society to engage in United Nations spaces. As a result of the highly politicized climate, reduced funding, civil society repression and immigration restrictions, many committed advocates have been denied the opportunity to exercise their fundamental right to attend this year’s CSW and CPD. Furthermore, civil society advocates at UN Headquarters are finding the space increasingly hostile, with ongoing security checks and restricted access to spaces where civil society has been traditionally welcomed.
We stand in solidarity with all young people fighting for gender, reproductive, economic, ecological, and social justice. We would like to acknowledge that many youth-led organisations and youth advocates were unfairly prevented from attending CSW or CPD: and it is our hope that with the #YoungFeministVisions photograph campaign, the incredible work of these activists will be recognised and their visions realised.