Build Back Fairer: why we must do better for Oxfordshire's young women and girls

Build Back Fairer: why we must do better for Oxfordshire's young women and girls

Posted: Wed, 02 Feb 2022 09:16

Build Back Fairer: why we must do better for Oxfordshire's young women and girls

Matt Roebuck, Healthy Place Shaping Lead introduces the next Build Back Fairer event and talks about why making public spaces more accessible for young women and girls is essential for a healthy, active county.

I want you to think back to lockdown. You wanted to meet a friend, did a checklist run through your mind? Where will we be able to sit, shelter, keep warm, go to the toilet? Will it be safe?

Welcome to the daily life of a teenage girl, financially or legally barred from cafés, pubs and other indoor spaces, say Make Space for Girls.

Youths gathering after dark – remember that could be anytime after school closes in the winter – is immediately viewed through a lens of anti-social behaviour, rather than as young people's attempts to meet, engage and play - not online, but in person.

The sporting spaces we build for them to gather, could be often characterised as a 'teenage cage' in the corner of a field, that pen in the most confident of male youths who feel comfortable to dominate such a space, but remain inaccessible to many – particularly younger children and girls.

We need to think about our informal sports provision, not just as a place to exercise, but as a place to socialise, to invite inter-generational participation – like in this example from Dagenham.

Let's not plonk a table tennis in the middle of a muddy field. Let's place it under some lights, next to benches, near somewhere you can get a drink. So, people can watch, rest, wait their turn, spend time together.

How do we do this? Well first of all let's ensure that we are providing those young people, whose only option for social space is the outdoors, with what they need. Beatfreeks, an insights agency that focuses on young people found that just 8 per cent of those aged 16 -18 have been asked for an opinion by a councillor or property developer about the future of their neighbourhood, even though 82 per cent of them say they would like to be asked.

Build Back Fairer events: sign up now and be part of the solution

Our next two Build Back Fairer sessions will focus on the inequalities of access to public spaces for teenagers, and specifically young women & girls.

On Thursday 17th February our next Build Back Fairer event session will feature Beatfreeks, who have been testing out Sport England's Voice, Opportunity, Power toolkit, and will focus on how we engage younger people in designing space and the activities that will draw them in.

That will be followed on Thursday 3rd March by a session led by Make Space for Girls that will explore how we might turn that into action with ideas of more equitable, accessible spaces for all.

We'll also be joined by Women in Sport, and Oxfordshire County Council Public Health who will introduce two projects to improve access to green spaces for women & girls in Oxfordshire and if you have ideas for more we'd love to hear from you too.

The sessions are advertised from 12-1pm but at 1pm we will have a 'soft close', turn off the recording and provide a forum for people to make connections and hopefully take action on what they've heard on the day.

You can sign up for the February event here and for the March event here - please do spread the word to anyone else who may be interested in attending.

Tags: Active Communities, Active-women