Democracy depends on young girls’ voices being heard - Anna McFadyen

We may see the downfall of democracy if we do not empower young women to stand up and speak out. Throughout my life, I have always been determined to share my opinions to make sure my voice is accounted for.

Many young girls, however, do not feel as comfortable doing this. It is vital to the inner workings of the country that we inspire and encourage the youth of Scotland to get involved in political action, ranging from research to rallies, a lack of confidence or harmful stereotypes should not limit us.

In primary school, pupil council was my calling: new and improved playground equipment was the most urgent matter, and it remains a pressing issue in my mind, of course. In the past 5 years since leaving my small and sheltered primary school, my eyes have been opened to an array of social and economic issues impacting people around me and across the world.

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I have been inspired by numerous women to get involved in any youth voice opportunity presented to me, such as my role as a "Speak Out Champion” within Girlguiding Scotland, as well as working with the Electoral Commission and Participation People. Through these organisations I have increased my self-confidence, and been encouraged by the phenomenal young women around me to grow and believe in my voice.

Anna McFadyen, Speak Out champion, Girlguiding ScotlandAnna McFadyen, Speak Out champion, Girlguiding Scotland
Anna McFadyen, Speak Out champion, Girlguiding Scotland

Why is youth voice in girls so important? Young people are the future of politics and if we do not spark an interest in girls from a young age, we cannot make progress in the country. For our democracy to maintain and improve representation levels, young people, from all backgrounds, must be taught about the power of their vote. In Scotland, we have a wide range of female role models, with Scottish parliament hosting a close ratio of women (45 per cent) to men (55 per cent); however, the Girlguiding Scotland Girls' Attitude survey found just over two in five (42 per cent) of girls and young women aged 11 to 21 said they were not more engaged or interested in politics and the decisions the government makes post-pandemic.

I know girls who excel in social action but have stated that they wouldn’t go into politics due to the ‘boys club’ it encourages. Girlguiding offer several badges, used from Rainbows to Rangers, to empower girls and encourage their interest in social action; there are also several charities also advocating for young people to have a voice, such as the Scottish Youth Parliament.

We must show young girls the power of their voice. We can make change! Capture our interests throughout the school curriculum and beyond the school gates. The resources are there, give us the guidance to find them. I would encourage any and every young girl to find a path for their journey to social or political action, whether it be on nuclear energy or the cost-of-living crisis. There is always a way. Take action, take initiative, take hold of your power, have a voice!

Anna McFadyen, Speak Out champion, Girlguiding Scotland



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