It's official: caring got cool. In celebration of our Activism Digital Issue starring Millie Bobby Brown this month, we've compiled the A-Z of activism, breaking down every single thing you need to know about giving a sh** in 2019. You're welcome.
A IS FOR ADVOCACY ACADEMY
Founded by ex-Westminster staffer Amelia Vinney back in 2014, the Advocacy Academy is a social-justice fellowship, specifically designed to get young people involved in activism. The pioneering group is based in South London and is primarily dedicated to supporting young activists from marginalised communities: helping them get their voices heard. With powerhouse young activists emerging ever year, they are fast becoming a force to be reckoned with.
B IS FOR BREXIT
If there’s one thing Brexit has given Britain (besides a colossal headache); it’s a political heartbeat once again. Those angered by Brexit have been woken up by it, and that is particularly true of young people; those statistically most likely to have voted remain and those certainly destined to be most affected by its legacy. In the wake of the referendum, Brexit marches have seen millions take to the streets in protest. It is political activism the likes of which Britain hasn’t seen for years. So thanks, Brexit, I guess.
C IS FOR COMMUNITY
The key to any activism is community, and there has been a marked return to grassroots organisations in recent years- as well as large-scale, global campaigns. One of the most prolific of these was the community activism that sprung up around the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The surrounding area, as well as the survivors, have banded together to form Justice4Grenfell, led by Yvette Williams MBE - which strives to attain justice for the bereaved and survivors -just one of the many groups created in the wake of the disaster, proving that, out of the ashes of catastrophe, there can be hope.
Millie Bobby Brown
GLAMOUR's May digital cover star, Millie Bobby Brown, in conversation with Orlando Bloom about how 'soul destroying' bullies inspired her to become an activist for young people’s rights
D IS FOR DIVERSITY
When Frances McDormand said ‘inclusion rider’ at the 2018 Oscars, many of us were left mildly confused. Now, however, diversity is a major factor in not just the media. A key factor is representation. Not enough women and men of colour, trans or queer folk are represented on screen, on radio or even in positions of power; in business, government or the highest echelons of academia. There has been a renewed effort to ensure parity on all levels in all industries. You can’t be what you can’t see, after all, and even activism itself is striving to represent all. If your feminism isn’t intersectional, is it even feminism? Exactly.
E IS FOR EQUALITY NOW
Established in 1992, this global NGO is dedicated to making the world a fairer place for women and girls. The tactics of Equality Noware impressive. They have an international network of lawyers and activists who hold governments responsible for unequal legislation and work to end damaging cultural practices; like child marriage and sexual violence. By striving for actual legal changes, the group demands to be heard, and strives for long-lasting, sustainable social transformation all over the world.
F IS FOR FGM
Female Genital Mutilation is an ongoing, damaging cultural practice that is not just confined to far-flung nations. It is a very real and, a very British problem too, with an estimated 137,000 girls who suffer in silence because of FGM, right here in the UK. The government has recently responded to this issue, thanks in part to the sterling efforts of FGM activists at The Dahlia Projectand the National FGM Centre– with the creation of the UK’s first ever FGM Bill. Hopefully positive change is just around the corner.
G IS FOR GENDER
One of the biggest emerging aspects of modern-day activism is how we deal with gender. Exploring trans rights, and making the world easier for non-binary folk to live their lives, has forced a spotlight on how we shape and see gender and the damaging gender stereotypes that are pervasive in our society. ‘Gender is a construct’ might have become a cheesy expression, but there’s more truth to it than we think. Many activists are striving now to create a more gender-neutral future, like The Fawcett Society, which this year is launching an investigation and campaign around the danger of gender stereotypes - and how they affect everyone.
H IS FOR HEBH JAMAL
This extraordinary student activist is a young Muslim-Palestinian-American who started her activism in school - when the then-seventeen year old organised a New York city high-school walkout. Hebhis one of the leaders of Integrate New York; an activist group which focuses on dismantling unofficial school segregation and she is a youth policy fellow at New York Appleseed – a non-profit organisation which works to gain equal access to education for all. A trans-Atlantic mega activist to watch.
I IS FOR INSTAGRAM
OK, OK, you can stop rolling your eyes now, but the social media platform has been one of the biggest catalysts for activism in recent years. Though it is also a conduit for sponsored posts and Kardashian belfies, it is a tool of connection not to be sniffed at. Whole campaigns and movements have gained huge traction online; think of #metoo and #blacklivesmatter as just two phenomenal examples. The power of the hashtag may be easy to dismiss, but the conversations it has started are not.
J IS FOR JAZ O’HARA
This young British activist is the creator of The Worldwide Tribe; an amazing organisation which works to aid those in refugee camps across Europe. Jaz was so moved by a visit to the Calais camps that she quit her job and founded the Tribe- which uses an online network to raise funds, raise awareness and bring volunteers together. It’s a powerful and inspirational group, started by a truly inspirational woman.
K IS FOR KINDNESS TO ANIMALS
Veganism is one of the fastest-growing lifestyle choices in the UK, which shows a sizeable climate change towards more ethical treatment of animals. The fashion world was once resistant to anti-fur protestors, but now some of the biggest names in the game, from Gucci to Versace, are going fur-free, with exotic skins and even leather not too far behind. The accountability of brands - both in beauty and fashion - is now palpable, and they are taking note. The rise of even flexitarianism – for those not quite able to take the vegan plunge- shows how seriously we are taking our own personal accountability too.
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L IS FOR LIVES NOT KNIVES
The recent spate of knife crime in the UK has caused global outcry and despair. Yet it is an aggravated period of tragedy that draws attention to longstanding issues with youth violence in the UK. Lives Not Knives was created by fourteen-year-old Eliza Rebeiro in 2007 to raise awareness of the systemic inequality that leads to violence, as well as the intrinsic dangers of knife crime. It has since blossomed into a powerful organisation which works with young people at risk, and supports them in education and employment. Their work could not be any more timely.
M IS FOR MENTAL HEALTH
One of the greatest social changes of the last few years has been the dismantling of taboos around mental health. Depression and anxiety are no longer dirty words but now the subjects of an open and global discussion that hopefully provides comfort to the many, many people who suffer. The proportion of young people seeking help with their mental health in the UK alone has risen over 13% since 1999, testament to the fact that we are now more empowered to discuss these issues. That’s why a lot of activist-organisations have popped up around mental health causes; like Sad Girls Club, Gurls Talk and Happy Not Perfect. This breed of worthwhile activism is about breaking stigma and delivering support.
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N IS FOR NADIA MURAD
This hugely-inspirational human-rights activist is the first Iraqi-Yazidi to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; for her efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. She is herself a survivor of ISIS; after she was captured and brutally raped by the group in 2014, aged 19. She escaped and fled to Germany where she became a leading spokeswoman for addressing sexual violence as a weapon of war, wrote a powerful memoir about her experiences and founded Nadia’s Initiative; an NGO that aims to support victims of sexual violence and help rebuild communities in crisis.
O IS FOR ONE YOUNG WORLD
This global forum for young leaders is an annual summit that brings together the brightest young talent from every country and sector, to work together to make a difference. One Young Worldguest speakers have included world leaders, CEOs and NGOs and Meghan Markle was even a counsellor at the organisation. It’s a bright and brilliant platform for a bright and brilliant future generation: of activists, leaders and, ultimately, change-makers.
P IS FOR PERIOD POVERTY
When teenager Amika George started her #freeperiodscampaign back in 2017, the UK took note of the fact that 44% of women and girls in this country struggle to afford menstruation products and that this issue leads to thousands of girls missing school because of their period. Sound unacceptable? That’s because it is, and that’s why period poverty has become a major focus of recent activism - and a successful one too - with £1.5m recently pledged by the government to help address this issue.
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Q IS FOR QUEERY
It’s a podcast, but it’s so much more. Hosted by stand-up comedian and LGBTQ activist Carmen Esposito; Queeryis a hugely popular show with a serious activist agenda. Focusing on issues which directly affect those in marginalised communities; and particularly topics surrounding the LGBTQ community, feminism and bigger discussions of social justice. Educational, funny and enlightening; it is a powerful show led by a powerhouse - and very funny - activist.
R IS FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
Under fire more than ever before, women’s reproductive rights have become a renewed focus of activism. The election of Trump heralded in a new crackdown on abortion rights in the states- and a surge in activism fighting that. Closer to home, there was better news with the successful campaign in Ireland; #repealtheeighth, in which the nation voted to repeal their anti-abortion legislation. The fight, however, is not over, with activism now moving to Northern Ireland, in an attempt to force a referendum on their still existing anti-abortion laws. Watch this space.
S IS FOR SUSTAINABILITY
We only have one planet and we’re treating it rather badly. The increasing awareness of this means we are making better choices for our environment. More than just using a reusable water bottle or recycling, we are now looking at our consumer habits; moving away from fast-fashion and towards eco-friendly products with ethical credentials. Brands are getting in on this too, putting sustainability high on their agenda. If there’s one arena of activism where your spending power matters, it’s this one.
T IS FOR TIMES UP
The Hollywood off-shoot of the #metoo movement has meant that systemic sexual misconduct and the discrimination of women in the movie industry is now under the spotlight. It has also had a ripple effect in other industries too, with business, tech and political sectors all calling times upon sexual discrimination and harassment in the workplace. A glorious step in the right direction with, we hope, the power to influence long-lasting change.
U IS FOR UPSKIRTING
Think taking a photo up someone else’s skirt should be illegal? So did Gina Martin, and when she herself suffered from this at a festival back in 2017, she then made it her life’s mission to change the law: and she did. Upskirting was made a criminal offence on 12th February this year after Gina’s tireless campaign. If ever there was an example of successful activism, it is this one. Go Gina.
Upskirting will now carry a two year jail sentence
V IS FOR VOTING
Your voice is your power and, in our political system, your vote is your voice. Whilst it may be easy to assume that the current politicians on offer are unrepresentative, or even part of the problem, your vote is still important. Look at Brexit! Breaking a broken political system means voting for issues that mean something to us and voting in those we think represent us more- and these candidates are out there. Even one vote can make a difference, especially when so many have fought and died to get the vote in the first place. Don’t disregard traditional politics- it can be a way to force real change: if you vote for it.
W IS FOR WALK FREE FOUNDATION
Abolitionism may feel like something from hundreds of years ago, but slavery is a very real, very current atrocity. The Walk Free Foundation,founded by Grace and Andrew Forrest, tackles the current climate of modern slavery: where an estimated 40 million people are enslaved. Their work takes them across the globe, lobbying governments and companies that rely on slave labour, and working with grassroots organisations within communities directly affected. It is breath-taking work, dealing with an issue most of us think doesn’t even exist.
X IS FOR (E)XTINCTION REBELLION
Alright, so we cheated a little there… but you try finding activist causes beginning with X…. This one’s a biggie, particularly if you’ve been paying attention to this group’s non-violent direct action over the last few weeks in London. Mass peaceful protests on the streets, the ‘die-in’ at the Natural History Museum…although the less said about the bloke who glued himself to the DLR, the better. The point is, Extinction Rebellionis fighting hard to raise awareness of climate change and the very real and urgent fact of our planet’s deterioration. Their recent efforts, and the UK visit of Swedish teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg, have accelerated the government’s focus on the real dangers of climate change and their determination to act. A small first step, but one forced by some seriously impressive activism.
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Y IS FOR YOUNG POLITICIANS
Thought politics was for boring old white men? Well, you’d be forgiven for thinking that, but we have some brilliant young and diverse minds entering politics right now, and it’s something to be excited about. Look at Lily Madigan, the first openly-trans women’s officer in the Labour Party , Nustrat Ghani, the first Muslim Conservative MP or the wealth of first time MPs elected in 2017, all in their twenties: including Ben Bradley and Danielle Rowley. There’s also the amazing work of Youth Politics UK, which strives to ignite Britain’s young people, from all backgrounds, to get into politics. Which is a good thing because…..
Z IS FOR GEN Z
…this is the most politically awake generation we’ve had since the 1960s, Gen Z are serious about social change, about equality and about redressing previously accepted- but damaging-social and political norms. With Gen Z’s fiery activism, and refusal to accept the status quo if it means accepting injustice; the future could be in good hands.