The Youth Lab


“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” - Angela Y. Davis

March 8 is International Women’s Day, a global day recognizing the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of [everyone who identifies as] women. The drive for true gender equality in 2023 continues to build momentum in the face of global seismic shifts and setbacks to women’s issues. Latin America’s ‘green wave’ of activists fighting for abortion rights. The female-led uprising in Iran. The destruction of reproductive rights in the US… This week’s 52INSIGHTS aims to broaden feminist-driven imaginations around the significance of the moment, exploring ways in which you can support and celebrate women & girls across the world today and every day.

*T/w gender-based violence, suicide.


Get Close To The Facts & Targets

“The social and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation even bleaker…Commitment and bold action are needed to accelerate progress, including through the promotion of laws, policies, budgets and institutions that advance gender equality.United Nations

Goal 5 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is to ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ (which includes recognising structural forms of oppression such as race, class, immigrant status, etc). The UN states that while there has been progress over the last decades, the world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030. There are many areas of concern - women’s health, violence against women and decision-making, to name a few. Child marriage and female genital mutilation are risks for hundreds of millions of women. To combat these serious global challenges, targets range from a focus on ‘full and effective female participation and equal opportunity in leadership’ to ‘universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights’. Read more about Goal 5 facts and the targets set out to achieve global gender equity here.

Fight the Teen Health Crisis

“America’s teen girls are engulfed in a growing wave of sadness, violence and trauma” - CDC.

A new Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from a nationally representative sample of students in public and private high schools in the United States has painted a dire picture of a teen girls mental health crisis. The data showed increases in rape and sexual violence, and record levels of feeling sad or hopeless: “Nearly 1 in 3 high school girls reported in 2021 that they seriously considered suicide - up nearly 60 percent from a decade ago. Almost 15 percent of teen girls said they were forced to have sex, an increase of 27 percent over two years...” While reasons behind this are complex, COVID-19, social media pressures, racism and LGBTQ+ stigmas are referenced as explainers for the crisis: “On Snapchat and TikTok, you see all these pretty girls with tiny waists and a big bottom. I know I’m only 14, but it makes me feel like there’s something wrong with myself…” Kaya, aged 14. Read more here and here.

Promote Intersectional Feminism & Rights Activists

“If you are going to talk about the gender pay gap. You better make sure you talk about the pay gap between white women and women of colour… On average in the US Black women are paid 21% less than white women.Angel Arutura

A long-running critique of common International Women’s Day narratives is that it is used as an opportunity for tokenist expressions with capitalist gains. This isn’t intersectional (considering the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender). Youth activists are asking people to do more for the unspoken for / unseen, challenging people to understand the difference between White Feminism and Intersectional Feminism. This is seen in the falling apart of the so-called Girlboss movement, which centred primarily on white, educated, middle-to-upper-class women and left many women forgotten. Collective action requires organisation and considers more than one aspect of being a woman. The uprising in Iran with cries of “jin, jian, azadi — women, life, freedom” is not just about self-expression of what to wear - the movement is tied to both the oppression of women and the brutal repression of Kurdish people in Iran.

Work to Remove Stigmas

Women face many stigmas on a day-to-day basis, including topics of menstruation, transness and finance (to name but a few). In fact over half of people who menstruate, feel ashamed about their periods (aside from the pain) huge shame regarding their period. Poet Rupi Kaur shared her experiences of being called disgusting for sharing a picture of herself in period-blood stained pyjamas. Statistically, trans-women are four times more likely to face multiple forms of stigma and discrimination in various aspects of their lives, including violence and harassment, employment discrimination, limited access to healthcare, stigma and discrimination in public spaces, and political discrimination. There is still a lot of work to be done for equality of pay - in 2022 women earn 17% less than men. One of our favourite things on International Women’s Day each year is the Gender Pay Gap bot that retweets IWD posts from organisations alongside their gender pay gaps. While all efforts working toward gender equality matter, action to reduce inequality in salaries seems like a straightforward place to begin.


As we key focus on how we accelerate work toward basic human rights, it’s important to embrace feminine joy and celebrate women and efforts toward a more equal world.

Fast-Tracking Progress

A moment for the Spaniards! This week Spain announced a new law that will require more equal representation of women and men in politics, business and other spheres of public life: “The Equal Representation Law will apply gender parity measures to electoral lists, the boards of directors of big companies and governing boards of professional associations.” It recently became the first country in Europe to also offer paid menstruation leave to women and those with a uterus (on the same day it’s also reported that the Spanish Congress approved another law strengthening protection for LGBTQ+ rights). Yes to all of this.

Female Creativity & Leadership “The leadership that got us here won’t be the leadership that gets us out.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Female leadership is important for its ability to promote representation and diversity, role modelling, address gender inequality, and challenge the status quo. Many now argue that recasting our society so that women play at least an equal role in decisions at all levels is now a matter of survival. Female leaders can bring new perspectives, which can lead to more innovative and effective solutions to complex problems. This is particularly important in areas where women have historically been underrepresented, such as politics, business, and academia. Examples of brilliant leadership that have been inspiring us recently include:


Invest to Urgently address Gender Equality - Tokenism can be a huge problem in live conversations and action around International Women’s Day. Gender equality has come a long way from women not having the right to work or vote, but there is still a huge focus needed from everyone to achieve SDG Goal 5 (check out the Still Present project). It can be extra work to make bigger changes, to go outside of your typical resources and invest in hiring leaders who don’t come from the same places as everyone else. But, a more equal world/workforce is also good for business. A report from McKinsey revealed that diversity in race, ethnicity, and gender creates a 25% better chance of a business’s profitability exceeding the national median. Take criticism on board and address it head on. Be open. Ask yourself and your team the challenging questions. Without addressing these challenges it will take even longer to create the changes that benefit everyone.

Spend Time Really Listening to (and working with) Women & Girls - “I want adults to believe young girls.” Harker aged 13, US. As always, listen to youth. Really listening means giving time and space to the issues of today, and working with diverse teams of people to come up with solutions that will have impact quickly. Businesses can also benefit from collaborating with female-led businesses (check out WEconnect for women owned businesses).

Support Women’s Stories & Creativity - Where do we even begin? THINKHOUSE’s Billy Bunzari has created an International Women’s Day 2023 music playlist to celebrate. Spread the love and give it a listen here. Disrupt what you are feeding yourself through culture. Watch or read something that has an intersectional feminist lens. New blockbuster movies like The Woman King are rewriting how we tell history through the female lens, while pop culture in the past few years has told stories from perspectives that haven’t been at the centre, like Pose, Euphoria, Shrill, I May Destroy, and Sex Education, as well as the non-fiction book Feminism for the 99%, and novel Detransition, Baby.