Feminism, Gender Equality, Gender-based Violence, Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights
Comments 2

Is My Body Truly Mine? Thoughts from CSW

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At the moment I am part of The Girl Child Platform’s delegation at CSW, the United Nations’ yearly conference on the status of women, in New York. This week thousands of women and girl activists from all around the world are gathered to raise awareness about women’s and girls’ rights. We come from different cultures and backgrounds but what the majority of all the discussions has been about this week is the right to one’s own body.

This has made me wonder if my body has ever been mine at all. As a girl, no matter where in the world you live, you are being taught from day one that your body exists for someone else and that your body should be shaped, formed and used for others.

The first time my body was kidnapped I was 13. My body was changing, growing, and turning into – what my mother called – more feminine shapes. But for me my body was not turning more feminine because I did not look like the women on the magazines or in the movies. I did however understand that femininity was “good” and something that could offer me happiness according to society. So I began the strive for the magazine version of femininity. What it gave me was three years of depression and countless of hours at the hospital.

The second time my body was taken away from me I was 17. I had never had sex before and was not really interested in it either, but the boy I was seeing was. At the time I did not understand what had happened. I did not even reflect over the fact that someone had taken my body and done whatever he wanted with it, because society had never made me feel that I had the right over my own body in the first place. It took years of therapy to achieve the understanding that my body actually could be mine.

My story is not unique, it is a story that girls today are more likely to tell than not. The fact that most girls today are taught that their bodies are not for them, and that they have no say in how their bodies should look like or how they should be used, is a massive violation of basic human rights. The RIGHT to one’s own body. This prohibits girls to reach their full potential and to bring out the power that is inside every girl. Societal kidnapping of girls’ bodies leads to gender inequality, and so much effort and time is need to take back what should have always been ours, OUR BODIES.

I believe the only way this struggle will end is when states take their responsibility and invite girls to the decision making table. In most seminars and discussions here at CSW decision makers talk about girls, but not with us. Policies and resolutions will never be able to address and capture the true issues if the ones who carry the experiences are never invited to speak and to be listened to. The Girl Child Platform is here just because of this, to make sure that girls are included. We represent over 30 organizations and I believe that through this partnership our voice is strengthened, and by continued cooperation we will be able to smash patriarchy and put ourselves at the decision making table.

What do you say, how do we get decision makers to include girls?

Written by Emma Blomdahl, The Girl Child Platform and Föreningen Tillsammans (The Togetherness Association)

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The Girl Child Platform (Flickaplattformen) is a national project in Sweden that gathers local, national and international agents that work with equality, feminism, issues related to girls' rights and opportunities, and not least those who work close to people that identify themselves as girls. The Girl Child Platform aims to create a long-term and sustainable cooperation between all of these stakeholders, in order to raise issues of girls' rights on the Swedish political agenda. By attending national and international conferences and organizing seminars and discussions on women’s and girls’ rights, we intend to raise awareness on these matters, but most importantly involve girls and young women in the discussions concerning their rights. Our vision is a society free of the power relations around gender and age that restrict and discriminate girls and young women today. The Girl Child Platform is a three year project run by the Hunger Project Sweden and Make Equal. The project is funded by the Swedish Postcode Lottery.

2 Comments

  1. Nice Read,

    It is painful and true as women we are taught we do not belong to ourselves, as women all we do is give we actually need to learn to receive.

    I am working in a region where girls are not supported to go to school, as a scholarship assistant officer its a constant fight and advocacy for girls education. Here from a tender age the society teaches girls that, theirs is to serve not to be served! It pains me to see very young girls being robbed of their childhood.

  2. This is so true. A huge help would be changes in how the media portrays women and girls, especially in advertising. The stereotyped and sexist (subtly or blatantly) images so common in advertising send a number of messages, from “you’re not good enough as you are” to “you really exist to please me” to “beauty and sex appeal is all you’re good for.” At the website I work for, Stockafe.com (a stock photography agency), we’ve been working on launching a project we intend to offer healthier, more realistic and empowering images for advertising, websites, and other uses. The advertising industry isn’t about to go away or stop using women’s insecurities to sell products, but it’s beginning to recognize that it needs to move away from the exclusive idea that women’s bodies belong to anyone/everyone besides themselves, and that ridiculous ideals of beauty are normal or desirable. Our goal is to provide the imagery that can help that happen. We’re actively seeking photographers and illustrators who want to get involved in creating images BY women FOR women (and beyond, to other groups poorly served by the current image standards in the stock industry). We’re also looking for people who want to be involved in helping us educate seasoned photographers in how to depict women, and concepts about women (feminism, equality, etc.) in less sexist and more empowering ways.

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