We need to shine a spotlight on the presence and nature of online sexism, conference told
– NYCI Annual Conference: Been there, done that… where’s the T-shirt? A Conference on Gender in Youth Work –
Sexism online, body image, sexuality and other gender related issues are still live issues, and those working with young people need to be supported to tackle them. That was the message emerging from Been there, done that… where’s the T-shirt? A Conference on Gender in Youth Work, which took place in Dublin Castle today (17.11.14).
The event – organised by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) – was opened by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly, TD and explored themes including working with young men; media and body image; tackling sexism online; gender, transgender and sexuality, and global justice.
Sexism online common theme
Speaking at the event Anne Walsh of the NYCI, coordinator of the No Hate Movement in Ireland said: “Of the issues emerging from today’s conference, one cuts across all the other gender related topics up for discussion: sexism online.
“We need to shine a spotlight on the presence and nature of online sexism, and the damage that it does to those – especially young women – who dare to use online spaces to voice opinions. And we need to explore how we can support young people to challenge it by speaking out against it.
“We have been looking at the insidious nature of sexism online – it being almost ever present, especially in gaming environments – but it is not challenged in the same ways that we (the No Hate Speech Movement) have been challenging Islamophobia, anti-Roma or anti-Traveller comments in online fora.”
Many men calling out for help
In his keynote address to the conference Ruairi Mc Kiernan, founder of youth website SpunOut.ie and member of the Council of State said: “There’s no doubt there is a problem with issues like hate speech, bullying, and racism online. There is also more and more discussion about the gender dynamics of online behaviour. This discussed has been amplified recently following the rape threats received by media critic Anita Sarkeesian after she accused the gaming industry of perpetuating a view of women as playthings and targets of male violence. Of course a culture of misogyny exists in some corners of the internet but this is just a reflection of the wider culture.
“If we want to understand why issues like violence and gender inequality exist, then we need to look to the underlying issues. There is a lot of focus on women’s issues these days but less so on men’s. Many men in my view are calling out for help. The fact that men make up 80% of suicides speaks for itself.
“One key aspect of this is that younger men often aren’t adequately mentored and supported as they enter adulthood. This needs attention, and in particular young men need to go through some form of rites of passage. There’s an African proverb that captures the importance of this. It says that if the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth.
Minister says youth groups well placed to challenge stereotypes
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly TD congratulated the National Youth Council for organising the conference on gender issues in youth work.
Speaking at the event Minister Reilly stated: “It is welcome that the Youth Council’s member organisations recognise the importance of supporting young people to tackle issues such as sexism, gender identity and body image. These youth groups working with over 380,000 young people up and down the country are well placed to challenge stereotypes, encourage more respect towards people of different genders, and ultimately contribute to better outcomes and brighter futures for all young people in Ireland.”
The event also included a panel discussion chaired by Senator Jillian van Turnhout, as well as keynote presentations including:
Droichead Youth Theatre performed a specially commissioned piece ‘spilled ink’.
The full programme of the day is available here: www.nyciconference.ie
CONTACT: Daniel Meister, Communications Manager at NYCI on 087 781 4903, 01-478 4122 or e-mail email@example.com
National Youth Council of Ireland
NYCI is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.
9.30 – 10.00 Networking and Registration
10.00 – 10.05 Welcome Mary Cunningham, Director, NYCI
10.05 – 10.15 Opening address
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly, TD
10.15 – 10.55 Keynote speeches
10.55 – 11.45 Panel discussion chaired by Senator Jillian Van Turnhout
Followed by Q and A
11.45 – 12.00 Break
12.00 – 1.00 Workshop 1 (Choice of 7 workshops chosen in advance by delegates)
1.00 – 2.00 Lunch
2.00 – 2.15 “Spilled Ink” (extract) A performance by Droichead Youth Theatre
2.15 – 3.15 Workshop 2 (Choice of 7 workshops chosen in advance by delegates)
3.15 – 3.55 Round table facilitated discussion
3.55 – 4.00 Closing remarks
Immediately following the conference the National Women’s Council of Ireland invite you to attend a reception and the official launch of their Y-Factor Toolkit ‘Through The Looking Glass: A Guide to Empowering Young People to Become Advocates for Gender Equality’. 4.00 – 5.30
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