What does active citizenship mean? Why is it key to supporting female leadership and working towards equality?
Active citizenship helps us connect as individuals with our global society. By getting involved in local and global communities, and showing a desire to make a difference, we all have the potential to engage in the world beyond our own lives.
Citizenship refers to membership of a group or community, and the rights and responsibilities that come as part of that. It is described as the practice and process of relating to the social world through the exercise of rights, protections and fulfilment of obligations.
Active citizenship in turn, is defined as people getting involved in their communities and democracy on both a local and global scale. Promoting quality of life, and working towards making a difference whilst developing knowledge, skills and values are all key parts of active citizenship.
Yet, citizenship is far from an inclusive category. Structural inequalities, institutional biases and gender-based discrimination mean that citizenship, and individuals’ ability to engage with it, will be experienced differently by different parts of society. Namely, women, in particular women of colour, queer women or those from poorer backgrounds are not given the same opportunities to participate as active citizens.
Whilst there is no shortage of highly skilled women to fill leadership positions, the attainment gap between women accessing education and entering employment persists. The gender pay gap in the EU stood at 16% in 2017, and 79% of men were employed v 68.2% of women.
Project Red:GLOW aims to bring together the intersection of gender, leadership, citizenship and young women’s agency. Red:GLOW sets out to address some of the structural and social inequalities that prevent women from participating as active citizens.
One of the aims of Red:GLOW is to address the importance of soft skills and ensure young women are equipped with the resources they need to participate as active citizens. Volunteering is a key way Red:GLOW promotes this agenda. Volunteering offers the opportunity for young women to engage in their local and global community, whilst developing skills of communication, time-management and leadership.
From personal experience, working as a volunteer for WONDER has enabled me to develop my communication and research skills. Working with an organisation centred around female empowerment is both inspiring and refreshing, and being able to put my own ideas forward whilst collaborating with others has really helped develop my ability to work as a team. My time with WONDER so far has been really valuable and has helped me to engage as an active citizen.
Project Red:GLOW gives young women the resources and skills needed to participate as active citizens. In doing so, Red:GLOW is working towards a future that celebrates and welcomes women’s participation in society, paving the way for young European women to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Author: Hannah Kean, Red:GLOW volunteer.