Maya Tutton from Our Streets Now speaks to students for International Womens Day
Speaker, campaigner and activist, Maya Tutton, spoke to students in Year 9 and Year 12 on 3 March about Our Streets Now, a campaign demanding the right of women, girls and marginalised genders to be safe in public space. After Maya witnessed her sister experience public sexual harassment (PSH), the sisters started the campaign, to share stories of PSH, to break down taboos about speaking out, shift attitudes, and, they hope, change laws surrounding PSH. As part of their campaign, they also visit schools and provide resources, so that young people will be taught about PSH, its root causes and its impacts in school. They hope to raise a generation who are equipped to challenge harassment, oppression, and prejudice.
At St Mary's, the interactive sessions focused on the purpose, value and celebration of International Women's Day on 8 March and what gender discrimination or disadvantage or violence might mean close to home and around the world. PSH is an example which, unfortunately, we know too well many of our students will experience in different ways. Maya discussed with students what it might mean, where and when they may feel less safe and why, and the extent to which this is a limit to freedom (especially with the additional consideration of victim-blaming). She spoke about the law (or lack of one) against PSH, and about the journey and experience of co-founding the campaign group to raise awareness, educate, support victims to feel less alone in their experience and to be within striking distance of bringing about a change to the law to make sexual harassment in public illegal.
The final part of the session looked at examples of young people who have been advocates and agents for change in different areas and asked students to consider what change they would think it is important to bring about and how this might be achieved. Students in both groups were very engaged in the discussion and many thoughtful contributions and important views were aired and shared. Students were also reminded of the school resources available to discuss these any experiences of PSH.
We would like to thank Maya for coming to discuss this vital campaign, for helping equip our students to not take PSH for granted, and encouraging them to strive to change the world for the better.
You can find out more about the pastoral support available to our students here.