When they say “the future is female”, believe them. And if you want an example of which females will be leading the way for future generations, get familiar with June Eric-Udorie, the British teen activist who is an inspiring role model for girls everywhere. For those who may not have heard of this badass woman or who live outside the UK, we’ll catch you up on what she has been doing over the past few years.
In 2016, the BBC named June on their list of 100 Influential and Inspiring Women. According to Elle Magazine UK, who named her their ‘Female Activist of the Year’ on International Women’s Day, March 8, this writer and feminist campaigner has already had a significant impact on her generation of teens. She helped lead a movement to overturn the UK government’s decision to remove feminism from A-Level Political school curriculum, by gathering 50,000 signatures in a petition.
She also raised £6000 in a week to take 400 young girls of color who come from low-income backgrounds to go to the movies to watch ‘Hidden Figures’. But that’s not all. June is also passionate about raising awareness about and campaigning against female genital mutilation, which has become enough of a problem in the UK that the government and education department have created initiatives to spot the signs of girls being taken away to have the heinous procedure being performed on them.
“When I was 14-years-old, I learnt of how my grandmother saved my mother from female genital mutilation, or FGM. I was horrified to learn of the practice, and the fact that millions of girls worldwide were still at risk of this gross violation of human rights. But I knew that I couldn’t stay silent, because being silent made me complicit in the practice,” wrote June in a piece for Elle UK.
She joined the Youth advisory panel for non-profit organization Plan UK and began campaigning for the rights of women and girls worldwide. She has also worked directly with the UK government on policy and campaigns to end FGM and child marriage, where her activism has taken her from classrooms to conferences with world leaders at the United Nations.
“In 2014, I was invited by the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, to be part of a youth steering community on the best ways to tackle these issues. Following the Prime Minister’s summit that summer, I co-founded “Youth For Change” with other young activists, it’s an organization fully funded by the UK government that works to end violence against women in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Tanzania and the UK,” she wrote.
Her writing has appeared in the Guardian, ESPN and the Telegraph, and June has been interviewed by the popular BBC 4 show ‘Woman’s Hour’. Now, the 18 year-old has been chosen to edit an intersectional feminist anthology by international publishing house Virago, according to an announcement on TheBookseller.com. June says she wants to bring more awareness to the needs of under-served communities and help others recognize the importance of nuanced conversations around feminism.
“Over the last few years, my feminist politics has developed and changed hugely, and for that I have to credit women of color online, especially Black women, for their scholarship. I think it’s time we move away from a predominantly white, middle class, able-bodied feminist discourse, and I hope this anthology will give a platform to women who continue to be marginalized within the feminist movement. I want to ask: who feels apart of the movement and who feels left out? Why do some women feel that they cannot identify as feminists? What do we want to see changed?” she said.
It’s a timely conversation indeed, with many activists and organizers within the global feminist movement raising concerns about the dominance of white feminism. It is these discussions about how race, economics, sexuality, ability, and other intersectional factors that will be of the utmost importance to the future of feminism.
“This anthology was conceived to address the appetite I have seen for conversations about feminism that are complicated and nuanced. There are so many different types of feminism(s) and I hope this anthology will explore some of them. I truly think it could be revolutionary,” added June to her statement about her forthcoming book.
There are a few intersectional feminist books and essay collections that have been released lately which are adding to the conversation about the voice of minority women especially. ‘The Crunk Feminist Collective’ by Brittney Cooper, Susana M. Morris, and Robin M. Boylorn explore how race and gender politics intersect with pop culture and current events.
Former teen librarian Kelly Jensen’s ‘Here We Are: Feminism For The Real World’ is a collection of diverse, intersectional perspectives on feminism written by 44 writers, dancers, actors, and artists. The idea was to enable feminism to become more accessible and relevant to the younger generation.
And of course we can’t go past the woman who has been widely credited with coining the term ‘intersectionality’, Kimberle Crenshaw. Her book ‘On Intersectionality: Essential Writings‘ is set to be released in May 2018 and will contain a series of essays outlining her influential approach to understanding discrimination and exclusion in our society, whose members can experience bias in multiple ways—as a consequence of race, gender, sexual orientation, or a combination of these.
June Eric-Udorie’s forthcoming feminist anthology is no doubt a highly anticipated piece of work in our current political climate, and she is in good hands with the publishers at Virago, who are also responsible for the release of two other feminist anthologies recently published: ‘Fifty Shades of Feminism’ and ‘I Call Myself a Feminist’.
In the meantime, you can get familiar with this powerful young activist with some of her other work. The music video below, produced for Integrate UK was a fun campaign to engage youth around the anti-FGM agenda. June was involved in making the #MyClitoris music video, showing her talent has no bounds. You can also follow June on Twitter and keep up to date with news about her book as it gets released to the public.