Feminism belongs in schools!


Jinan Younis and a group of her peers believed strongly in gender equality and felt that girls in their peer group were subject to huge pressures as a result of their gender; heavy pressure to agree to sexual acts, eating disorders as a result of trying to live up to the media propagated image of beauty and emotionally abusive relationships which left them feeling worthless. Persuading the school to allow this society was an uphill struggle and when they permitted it to go ahead the girls felt victorious. Little did they know their battle was just beginning.

For the next few weeks the girls were to be subjected to vast levels of extremely personalized, graphic and degrading abuse from (particularly male) peers. This followed their decision to participate in an online campaign where people posted pictures with the slogan “Feminism matters because…” and their reason, often using personal or painful experiences to bravely make their voices heard. SWAN supports the young Altrincham Feminists

The schools response, far from punishing those at the forefront of the bullying and sexist verbal assaults (which also took place on twitter and facebook) was censorship. They recommended that the girls take down the pictures, giving the perpetrators the impression that they were vindicated in their response and that, the victims were in some way responsible for generating it. Jinan’s article, which makes for difficult reading, was just the start of her fight back.  

Today UK Feminista, working with Jinan, will launch a pledge for schools to sign in a bid to try and get them to take a lead on working with their male and female students to put an end to violence against women and discrimination of the kind faced by Jinan and to promote equality and opportunity for all.
Those who want to show their support for Jinan and the girls can do so by posting a picture with a placard starting “Feminism belongs in schools/education because” on the tumblr account: www.feminismbelongs.tumblr.com

Jinan hopes to use the momentum generated by the pledge and the tumblr site to take DIY FemSoc packs into schools to promote the pledge and to encourage other young people to start talking about gender, feminism and equality.


The school’s actions were a disservice to not only girls and women but to society at large. When we fail in supporting the voices of girls we also turn our backs on boys who need a helping hand in becoming more informed young men.

Please join us in sending a message loud and clear to Altrincham Grammar School for Girls and other schools around the country that gender empowerment has a firm place in education!

Take a photo to show solidarity with the girls! : http://feminismbelongs.tumblr.com/

Sign Here and Ask Schools to Take Action Against Sexism! : http://ukfeminista.org.uk/take-action/generation-f/schools-against-sexism-pledge/

SWAN at the People’s Assembly

The plenary sessions were rousing affairs. Owen Jones talked of the ‘fear’ and ‘anger’ stalking the land, and that now was the time for ‘hope’ and Mark Serwotka, from the PCS, argued that ‘it’s time we stopped fighting with one hand tied behind  our back and socked it to these viscous bastards’. It was heartening that this radical talk was matched by Frances O’Grady, the new TUC general secretary, who described the Government as declaring ‘class war’ and pledging to fight as hard for ‘our people’ as the Condems do for theirs. The test, of course, will be on whether we can hold trade union leaders to their bold words. The People's Assembly

The Assembly also impressed with its range of workshops, such as ‘tactics for the anti-austerity movement’, ‘climate change’, ‘re-unionising the UK’, ‘welfare not warfare’ and ‘defending the welfare state’. SWAN got a plug at the latter with a contribution from the floor emphasising the impact of austerity not just in terms of benefit cuts, important as these are, but also acted out in increases in the numbers of children coming into care and of people being sectioned and explaining that SWAN brings together practitioners, students, service users and academics: a model, perhaps, of the way that this campaign sees itself as progressing. The call for People’s Assemblies in towns and cities across the country may well invigorate the anti-cuts committees and other groups already in existence and encourage new initiatives. There is also the commitment from the Assembly to support the already planned strikes of teachers and the PCS and to call for a national demonstration in support of the NHS, at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on September 29th 2013.

I came to the Assembly both glad it was happening and sad that it had taken so long to organise on this scale and so far into the cuts. While at the Assembly I missed the international dimension, there were few references to the world wide resistance to austerity, and curious about how the Assembly will respond to strongly expressed calls from Ken Loach and others for a political alternative to Labour. But overall I left excited at the prospects the Assembly holds to continue and strengthen the fight against austerity.

Jeremy Weinstein

Social Workers and Service Users Unite


As a broad based network that consists of social workers, social care workers, academics, service users, carers, trade unionists and advocacy workers (to name a few), the Social Work Action Network Ireland considers it an ethical imperative to stand in solidarity with any and all groups in society who find themselves further marginalised and oppressed by the ongoing attacks on essential services. The cutting of resource hours for children with special needs is the latest in a sustained and calculated move on the part of the government to dismantle the welfare state piece by piece.

Ideology is playing a very important part in this too. We have a Taoiseach who is the third best paid “leader” in the EU (1). We have a government who are explicitly condoning housing a tax haven in the IFSC (2). We have a country where the incomes of the richest are increasing while the incomes of the poorest are decreasing (3).

At the same time we have a country where child poverty has increased exponentially (4), where youth unemployment is among the highest in Europe (if we included the mass emigration which has occurred the figure would be even higher) (5) where racism is on the increase (6) and where draconian programmes like “Jobsbridge” and the changes to the social benefits for jobseekers and lone parents, ensure that people who come into contact with the social welfare system are dehumanised and made to feel guilty from availing of a system that should be there to provide a safety net for anyone in our society who might find themselves in need of it at some point in their lives.

So, if you are in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Galway, Athlone, Roscommon, Dongeal, Clare or Leitrim (7) on Wednesday, then get out and join us in calling for an end to austerity (i.e. an end to the sustained attack on essential services) and an end to an ideology that puts the concerns of an minority elite ahead of the good of the many.

(1) http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/enda-kenny-is-still-third-bestpaid-leader-in-the-eu-28953402.html

(2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AUxGWc-jUC4

(3) http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/group-highlights-widening-gap-between-rich-and-poor-559233.html

(4) http://www.irishtimes.com/news/man-made-disaster-of-austerity-raises-child-poverty-rate-in-ireland-to-19-7-1.1252190

(5) http://www.irishtimes.com/news/man-made-disaster-of-austerity-raises-child-poverty-rate-in-ireland-to-19-7-1.1252190

(6) http://www.thejournal.ie/racism-ireland-887997-Apr2013/ 

(7) http://www.specialneedsparents.ie/call-to-action-government-spin-doesnt-reflect-the-real-reduction-in-resource-teaching-allocations/#.UcdhDti0RHh

Link to original blog post here: http://socialworkactionnetworkireland.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/social-workers-and-service-users-unite/



Keep Spon Lane Children’s Home open!

The lobby was composed of UNISON, UNITE and GMB members received support from from Smethwick Against The Cuts and West Midlands Social Work Action Network.

Sandwell has gradually closed all its inhouse residential homes and will become completely reliant on commissioning residential care from the private and community sector.

It is understood the decision will be called in and will be considered by the Council’s Scrutiny Committee.

The Trade Unions have complained that Management ‘have failed to properly engage staff and young people in meaningful consultation and have failed to explore all options.’

The Committee paper gives the grounds for the closure that building design made Spon Lane as no longer fit for purpose.

The Unions have made a counter proposal that the Council explore using two 3 bedded Sandwell Homes to continue an in-house residential service.

SWAN Conference 2014: Durham University

After the success of the SWAN North-east regional conference in November last year, the 2014 SWAN national event will be held at Durham University, on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th April.

This year’s event in London had well over 400 delegates was the biggest SWAN conference yet. Next year’s event will be the ninth national and international SWAN conference and the ten year anniversary of the Social Work Action Network.