Young Voices – Our Future

This was a panel discussion hosted by Rayner Rees with Victoria Pritchard (SI Chester), Emma Guthries (WAGGGS) and Jodie Foster who has recently joined Soroptimists and is a volunteer at Barnardo’s where she has worked on multi projects to fight child sexual exploitation. These young women can give us vital clues and tips as to what young women and future Soroptimists need from our organisation.

I was impressed by the confidence of these young women who between them had spoken at the 2015 SI Convention in Istanbul, the UNESCO NGO Forum in Saudi Arabia on Youth and their Social impact, and the UN’s 61st Commission on the Status of Women. Quite an achievement when you consider their average age is 28!

What are the main challenges that young women are facing today?

Lots of pressures including social media, expectations from society. Young women want positive role models – “it’s difficult to be what you can’t see”. Lack of encouragement and empowerment, and opportunities.

How can I meet these needs and encourage young people?

Through nurturing and encouraging, and listening to what these young people actually want rather than what I think they want. Clubs need to talk about what they do – programme action – make it THE agenda not just on the agenda, embrace social media (it’s only as dangerous as you make it), keep websites up to date and fresh. This is how young people view the world- tap in and encourage their skill sets. Think about those role models that are already in your club, and encourage mentoring. Be flexible with your club maybe subgroups for example book or craft groups. Find out their aspirations and look at how they can be met.

Listen to these young voices and don’t disregard what they say. Take action, learn from them as they learn from us, they are our future!

Jacalyn Wood
SI Folkestone

Read biographies of the three young Members