We’d like to introduce you to one of our trail-blazing Youth Activist Leaders, 17-year-old Georgia Chapman.
Our Youth Activist Leaders are part of our Youth Activist Series (YAS), an initiative by Plan International Australia that engages a diverse range of young people aged between 16 and 25 in an inclusive process of change-making.
This is Georgia’s story in why she strives for change in the world and why she became one our Youth Activist Leaders.
“I remember in year six, my teacher Mr Zammit, taught us about human rights. He showed my class clips that explained and described the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I felt passion arise in me as I realised how many people on Earth did not have access to basic human rights. I vowed then, in a hard plastic chair in a sixth-grade classroom, that I would use my luck and privilege as a platform to help those whose rights weren’t recognised.
When I began high school, I soon found that I had a particular interest in the struggles of women and girls, the LGBTIQ+ community, refugees and asylum seekers. I looked into how I could help, but at 13, there wasn’t much I could do other than the 40 Hour Famine. I had nowhere to channel my passion and even worse, no one wanted to hear me talk about the issues I cared so much about. On the contrary, they made fun of me for it.
I was a ‘special snowflake’ for wanting social change and my classmates would make jokes about rape, knowing I’d fight back against these sexist behaviours.
‘It’s just a joke,’ they’d tell me. The fact is, jokes like this contribute to a society that disrespects women, and then abuses them. I tried to explain my perspective, but no one was listening.
Posters of Malala Yousafazi, Carrie Fisher and Hermione Granger weren’t enough anymore. I needed advice, help and support.
So I turned to the internet in search of activist opportunities for people my age and that’s how I found Plan International. Thrilled by the possibility, I applied – and was accepted.
I then faced the challenge of flying – for the first time – to Melbourne. When I arrived I met other girls who shared my passions and dreams and encouraged them. Together, we participated in workshops, discussed issues and possible solutions, and forged strong, fierce friendships.”
“I no longer felt alone in fighting for the causes I believed in. I was inspired, empowered, encouraged, and enlightened.
I couldn’t believe my luck. I was able to learn skills in public speaking, advocacy, storytelling, media and facilitation.
In Melbourne I was able to work on Free To Be, which is a digital mapping tool where women could drop ‘pins’ on places where they felt safe or unsafe, allowing users to tell their stories and advocate to make Melbourne a better place for young women.
Now we’re working on ‘girl takeovers’ ahead of International Day Of The Girl on October 11.
I aim to ‘takeover’ Sydney streets with street art to metaphorically take the streets back for girls and women who are made to feel unsafe on the streets. Another youth activist aims to take over the Prime Ministership for a day!
These takeovers will be happening all over the world, by girls who might be from another country, but just like me, are passionate about making change.
Overall, it’s been an incredible experience. I am so grateful to Plan International Australia, particularly our Youth Advocacy Advisor Zoe Condliffe, for providing us all with such amazing support, opportunities, and skills.
I’m now part of a global movement of other girls doing similar work, and I no longer feel alone in my passion for advocacy. I can’t wait to see what I, and the other YAS Activists, can achieve in the future.” – Georgia
If you are like Georgia and have a similar passion for gender equality and desire to create positive change in your community, click here to learn more about our Youth Activist Series program. Together, you and Plan International Australia can create lasting change.