Posted on January 26, 2016
Leadership is defined by the moment. How can you shift the trajectory of the injustice you are witnessing or experiencing? Each and every young person we work with is a leader—in their schools, in communities and in our country. We listen to girls and young women of color. We trust them not only to have a seat at the table, but to be there, making decisions about the policies and systems that directly affect their lives.
The Challenge: Cis and transgender young women of color and gender non-conforming youth experience a continuum of sexual violence in their lives—violence at the intersections of class, gender and racial inequity—yet their experiences and perspectives are often disregarded. Addressing child sexual abuse in youth development work while also holding an understanding of its connections to all forms of gender-based violence and systemic inequality is complex, essential work. But young women are often left with few familiar resources or safe environments to address their trauma while also participating fully in the movement to end gender discrimination and sexual violence.
The Solution: Begin with working on ourselves first. In order to be powerful allies to youth, Girls for Gender Equity must build our own capacity to address child sexual abuse in all we do. We will name and intentionally address child sexual abuse as an essential component of ending gender-based violence by bringing youth survivor-leaders into the work in a healing and supportive way. Then we will engage youth towards building a model program of peer support, leadership development and advocacy for cis and transgender young women of color and gender non-conforming youth to center their voices and wisdom in the movement.
The Strategy: Girls for Gender Equity employs a dual approach of advocacy and direct service provision in order to holistically support the leadership development of youth of color, a number of whom are survivors of child sexual abuse. GGE’s youth development model is designed with the recognition that young people come to the work of organizing as survivors of multiple forms of structural oppression. Very often they can be advocating for systems to change while also navigating these systems for their very own survival. We believe those who are most affected ought to be the architects of strategies to reform the systems that impact them. With this project, GGE is building an organization where young people who have been, or are at risk of being, sexually abused feel comfortable seeking support and engaging in preventive programming, while training to engage in movement building to combat the root causes of child sexual abuse.
This project seeks to address child sexual abuse within every context of GGE’s work on gender-based violence and builds on the organization’s foundational work to raise community awareness about street harassment and sexual harassment in schools, experiences that can be profoundly triggering for survivors. By exploring how oppression and the intersections of race, gender and privilege perpetuate cycles of abuse and violence, GGE will better support participants and families, educate community members, and advocate with our allies.
Ultimately, GGE envisions a society with optimal physical, economic, educational and social systems to foster the growth and fulfillment of girls and young women of color. To that end, GGE provides programs that develop strengths, skills and self-sufficiency in girls and young women of color so that they are prepared to voice, strategize and advocate for solutions to end child sexual abuse and all forms of gender-based violence.
Gabrielle ‘Gabe’ Radeka is a social worker in the movement to dismantle white male supremacy. For twenty years she has been engaged in feminist advocacy as an educator, organizer, clinician and cultural worker. Gabe is passionate about using transformative education practices, creative activism and authentic allyship as tools to build community and push back against systems of oppression. Trained as a teacher, Gabe taught in the Detroit Public Schools for several years before co-founding a holistic education program for young adults at Kripalu Center. She went on to train at the Smith School for Social Work and graduated with an MSW from the University of Michigan. She is a relational clinician dedicated to working in community to advance collective and individual well-being. Her clinical experience includes specializations in issues related to sexual identities and family acceptance. At Girls for Gender Equity she supervises service delivery and strategizes with participants and staff to make way for young women and girls to own their power and lead.
Girls for Gender Equity is an intergenerational, community-based organization committed to the physical, psychological, social and economic development of girls and women. Through education, organizing and physical fitness, Girls for Gender Equity encourages communities to remove barriers and create opportunities for girls and women to live self-determined lives.