Two Teen Girls From Iceland Are Schooling The Older Generation On Feminism & Gender Equality

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(updated on 7/14 to include TEDx Talk video)

Whenever we despair about the amount of inequality and injustice that is still very prevalent in the world, we often find inspiration from the younger generation. They are not only our future, but in many cases, our hope. While the older generations of feminists and women’s rights activists are still impacting communities and lives, we can clearly see the effect their voices have had on young women when we see teen girls and college students using their voices to advocate for gender equality.

The emergence of teen feminist organizations and activists is important, because they understand the issues facing their generation more than anyone else. Rape culture, revenge porn, slut shaming, cyber stalking and harassment and the media objectification of women’s bodies. If we want to be part of changing the future to be better for the younger generation, it serves us well to listen to these teens.

Two girls from Iceland have recently been given quite an enormous platform to talk about why feminism and gender equality is important to them. Margrét Snorradóttir and Una Torfadóttir are two high school students and friends from Iceland, who were invited to speak at TEDx Reykjavik (video below), who spoke about the need for women to take up more space in the world and accomplish great things.

They received this prestigious invitation after performing of slam poetry at the annual Skrekkur talent competition, a piece titled ‘Elsku Stelpur’ (“Dear Girls”), which was a choreographed 5 minute show which questioned patriarchal standards and gender norms. Another interesting talk at the same event was given by Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir, a trans and queer activist who spoke of challenging society’s ideas of gender and sexuality in order for more people to becoming better allies of the transgender community.

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In an interview with Grapevine.is about their TEDx Talk and feminist activism, the girls share more about their day-to-day involvement in activities and their belief that all platforms can be used to spread messages about gender equality. Margret is the founder of a feminist group at Hagaskóli, their high school, called Ronja, and also started #ronjaferátúr (“Ronja has her period”) a movement to challenge stigma around menstruation. So far the club has 90 members, and only 15 of those are boys, but Margret and Una are optimistic more will join.

“I feel like, if I were a boy and listening to the whole conversation about feminism it’s so easy to fall into this trap of following the rules of feminists and not breaking any of them, like, ‘Don’t objectify women, don’t do this, don’t do that’…but I also think that they have to realize that these are not rules created to make them feel bad or to limit them. They’re made for all of us to feel better…boys have to realize how good they are and how good they are personally and individually as well. I think that’s really the only way we can make lasting change–to have boys have their own impact on the movement as well,” said Una.

Both girls live in an affluent area of Reykjavik where they recognize how lucky they are than most. There is not a lot of poverty or violence, but the country itself is far more progressive in terms of gender equality than other countries in the world.

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Although economists predict women won’t reach complete gender equality globally until 2133, Iceland has been quite the leader already. They have been ranked as the number one most gender equal country in the world for the past consecutive 7 years by the World Economic Forum. Iceland was also the first country in the world to democratically elect a female head of state, Vigdis Finnbogadóttir in 1980.

Both Margret and Una’s parents are feminists, which gives you an idea of the head start they had with the influence of open-minded parents, yet they have some very specific critiques of the culture of feminism in their homeland.

“Feminism is trendy in Iceland and the coolest people in Iceland, the rappers and the musicians, are all feminists. But there are feminists and then there are ‘feminists.’ And sometimes I get annoyed when I see all these people calling themselves feminists and they’re saying, ‘Yes, I support equal rights and everything,’ but then these same people are not acting like feminists,” said Una.

“They don’t speak up when they see inequality, they themselves may slut-shame or objectify women without even thinking about it. It’s so difficult when it becomes okay to act that way but also call yourself a feminist,” she continued, echoing just how powerful celebrity currency can be in our media and entertainment-obsessed world.

However these two bold teens are determined to walk their talk and do try to use every platform they have access to to talk find ways to create more spaces for girls to raise their voices about issues they care about. They can see there is a huge wave of feminism rising across the world and want to take advantage of the moment in order to ingrain their message while it is a popular subject.

“I think that’s the whole point of seeing and using opportunities because they come by and then they’re gone. And if you didn’t use them then you have nothing to show for it. So while we can, and while we have the time, we need to do as much as we can,” said Una.

To get an idea of the kind of impact these girls are already having in their community, take a look at their “Dear Girls” performance below, where they focus on the issue of slut-shaming and the often hypocritical messages around school dress codes aimed mostly at girls. If the future is indeed female, we’re already excited by what we see in teens like Margrét Snorradóttir and Una Torfadóttir.

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