When we talk to young women about feminist and women’s history, they often ask “why don’t we learn these things in school?”. They should; and they should learn about all the social and political influences that shape our lives as women. Feminist Webs was set up by practitioners who were passionate about youth work, which includes working with young women in single sex environments outside of school – in youth clubs, libraries and community centres. Youth work is a way of working that starts with the knowledge that young people have and the experiences of their own lives, and build on this. It values them as equal to adults and unlocks huge amounts of potential, not only from the young people but from the leaders, helpers and educators of all ages who get involved.
In 1976 a Girl’s Work Unit (GWU) was established in the UK that helped to sustain a national movement for work with girls that was explicitly anti-sexist. Feminist youth workers across the country were determined to address the conditions of young women’s lives and the politics of everyday life and relationships, as well as a politics of social action.
The GWU closed in 1986, coinciding with the decline of widespread feminist action and a second decline in single sex youth work (the first was after WW1, when religion began to have less influence in youth work). Feminist Webs is part of the legacy of the GWU, aiming to revive an explicitly feminist youth work practice with young women.
For lesson plans and other inspiration for working with single sex groups of girls and young women, see our Resources search section.
Further reflections on Feminist Webs and the importance of intergenerational work can be downloaded here.