16th FEBRUARY 2018

Safe and Sound is a funded project from The Spirit of Women Changemakers Grants Programme, which was set up by The Fawcett Society and Spirit of 2012. Safe and Sound will see Blueprint 22 run 16 workshops, attracting 100 women, to challenge objectification and promote healthy relationships. The workshops will include a focus on working with disabled women, who research shows are at greater risk of sexual exploitation. Here participant Emily West relates her experiences.

Hi, my name is Emily West. I am 22 year old, and I live in West Sussex. I am a part of a Youth Led organisation called Blueprint 22, they work with anyone aged 16-25 from Brighton to Bognor Regis on the South Coast. We are working with the Fawcett Society on a new project called Safe & Sound. The project was created because me and some other young women I know have been having problems with online dating apps and getting messages from men who are showing us their bits. We didn't ask for this, and we don't want to see it. We got in a conversation about what can do to try and make this not happen or find somewhere that we can talk about this sort of thing with other women. I wanted to be project leader for the women's project because I wanted to help other young women like me who need some advice and support about lot of different issues.

The reason we wanted to set up this project is because a lot of things make us feel unsafe, like chatting online, walking home in the dark, being on a train at night, not being able to say no to things we don't want to do, being drunk and being ditched by friends, not being able to get a job and relying on other people to pay for things.

The project started with workshops about ‘What Is Feminism’. Before this project started, I didn't know what the word feminism meant, I had kind of heard of it but didn't understand what it means. So it is interesting to learn about it and hear more about women and what they do.

I have asked other people in my project if they knew what it meant before the project started.  One person, Lois age 20 had heard about feminism before and she said that feminism was “About the suffragettes and the right to vote”.

One member of the group, Emily age 17 said that “Feminists stand up for what they truly believe in and they never give up on their dream”.

Other people didn't know what feminism was and got it confused with the word ‘feminine’, so were saying that their feminine icons were women that dressed in dresses and had long hair, this confusion took a long to explain. Most of the people in my project didn't know that women don't have equal pay or that women didn't have some of the same rights as men. We were all shocked about the marital rape law only being brought in during 1994. The group was also shocked when we were looking at comments made by people, and couldn't believe that Donald Trump, the president of the USA, had said he “..grabbed women by their pussy”. Everyone thought this was disgusting and it made us all think a bit more about women in the world and what makes us all uncomfortable. A man who is leader of a country shouldn't be able to say that about women because it will make other men think it's okay to do that too.

In the project we looked at some feminist icons from history including Millicent Fawcett & Emmeline Pankhurst. We also looked at feminist icons who are around today and who we look up to. We chose `Beyoncé, Harnaam Kaur, Malala Yousafzai, Tulsa Contosavlos and Adele. We look up to these people because they are all women who have achieved something big in their lives and people who we would like to meet and find out more from.

I still don't know really know how feminism affects my day to day life but I know that men and women should have equal pay and that women shouldn't feel unsafe because of who they are or what might happen to them. I want to carry on understanding about this so that I can tell other people what it means and find out how it affects their life in positive ways.

Emily West
Project Leader Safe & Sound Project
Blueprint 22