Real Talk: A fierce feminist community of solidarity and activism

By Gloria Diamond and Natasha Harris-Harb

Continuing UNGEI’s 2020 tradition of intergenerational dialogue and activism in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19, we held a Real Talk event on “Tackling the Shadow Pandemic” in December last year. This event is part of our #InSolidarityWithGirls advocacy campaign to put issues of gender and education at the forefront of COVID-19 response and recovery. But before we tell you more about this event, what is a Real Talk? We turn to our inspirational moderator and friend Fatou Wurie to explain:

In this video clip from the Real Talk event on “Tackling the Shadow Pandemic” held in December 2020, feminist ally Fatou Wurie captures the spirit and essence of the ‘Real Talk’ conversations hosted by UNGEI.

A brave space for dialogue, knowledge-sharing and solidarity

Building on the momentum of the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence campaign, we worked with the ActionAid Youth Working Group to convene a group of trailblazing feminists from different generations and geographic locations to talk about an issue that has been weighing heavy on the hearts and minds of gender and education activists. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing rates of sexual and gender-based violence in all its forms, also known as the “shadow pandemic”, have been recorded around the world. This unscripted and intergenerational Real Talk discussion focused on co-creating practical recommendations and actions to tackle this disturbing trend and limit its impact on girls’ education in particular.

This graphic celebrates the ‘fierce feminists’ working to address SGBV around the world. Graphic by Education Transformer, Ipista Divedi

The Real Talk audience was made up of young activists from around the world working to end gender-based violence. This event was an opportunity for intergenerational learning, for youth-led networks to share real-world insights, ask questions to their peers and colleagues, share experiences of their work to overcome gender-based violence and ideas on how it should be addressed. Moderated by SheDecides Champion Tikhala Itaye, the event closed with an open floor session where activists bravely raised their voices.

5 Real Talk highlights:

  1. An unforgettable poetry reading by Alinafae (watch it ).
  2. A deep reflection on the discourse of the “shadow pandemic” and how this could help or hinder our efforts to overcome gender-based violence in our schools and societies (watch this clip ).
  3. A reminder that sisterhood in activism is alive, strong and a crucial ingredient in smashing the patriarchy to end sexual and gender based violence (SGBV).
  4. Witnessing the essential role that a feminist approach plays in a cross-sectoral and intergenerational response to SGBV, especially in schools.
  5. This call to action: “Let’s burn fire breaks in the path of patriarchy which is fueling gender based violence and gender inequality” from Katherine Robinson, ActionAid.

In 2021, we are committed to taking forward this practice of intergenerational dialogue, collaboration and feminist action. Stay tuned for upcoming events!

Download the In Solidarity With Girls and follow the conversation on using #InSolidarityWithGirls

UNGEI Blog

All the latest news and insights on the movement to promote…

UNGEI Blog

All the latest news and insights on the movement to promote gender equality to, in and through education.

UN Girls' Education Initiative

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Advancing gender equality in education and the empowerment of girls through the power of partnership.

UNGEI Blog

All the latest news and insights on the movement to promote gender equality to, in and through education.