“To the girl who has been through female genital mutilation (FGM). It will be OK. You survived – you are a survivor. They may have violated your rights but believe in yourself. Believe in your strength. FGM does not define you; you are much more than that.” -June Eric-Udorie, The Telegraph
For today’s Fab Female Friday, I chose to highlight someone who has been an incredible inspiration to me: June Eric-Udorie, a strong 17 year old, British feminist blogger originally from Nigeria. In Nigeria as a little girl, June’s ambitions and dreams grew. When she was 10, her family moved to the UK, so she could chase those dreams. She’s fulfilled a major one, so far: becoming an influential teen blogger. She is a Fab Female for many reasons. Beyond the fact that she is outspoken against female genital mutilation, “obsessed with smashing patriarchy,” June is a wonderful example of a young, black feminist for these reasons:
- She’s a member of Plan UK’s Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) while sitting on the Board of Trustees for the organization as a Board Youth Observer (WOW! And she’s still in high school!).
- When she isn’t writing feminist blogs, June watches TED talks, reads her latest literary obsession, or listens to music. She’s just a normal teenager who “occasionally” does big things? Super inspiring.
- She got 50,000 signatures on a petition that actually made feminism a part of A-level politics curriculum for high school students (Can we get that in the States as well? Please?).
- She raises her voice against gender-based violence by pulling strength from her personal story. #FemalePower
- She’s been published in Cosmopolitan and The Guardian (Talk about smart storytelling).
- She disowns the idea of “waves of feminism” because she sees great value in listening to all women of the movement regardless of age.
- She firmly says NO to media sexism. June believes that media is “hyper-sexualized” and that it is up to the movement to challenge those images through pushing for diverse female representation.
- She dances to Beyonce a lot.
- She embraces Intersectionality. Some of the first feminists that June learned from include Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Simone De Beauvoir , and Kimberlé Crenshaw. June credits them for her passionate view of intersectionality in feminism, where she recognizes how different oppressions intersect and affect lives. For June, she personally deals with oppression from two main fronts as she is black and a woman. Intersectionality is crucial to June because “Women’s voices, especially those of colour, have been marginalised in mainstream discussions on everything” (Newstatesman). It is only when those voices are recognized that true gender equality is achieved.
- She pushes girls to be comfortable with their body and to fight for that simple right for every girl around the world.
Check out some of the incredible blogs from the courageous and talented Ms. Eric-Udorie, and learn from her viewpoint why “Feminism shouldn’t just be about liberating white women, or straight women, or rich women. Feminism should have at its centre the voices of all women” (The Guardian). If nothing else, June has proven that raising your voice can turn into earthshaking cries for justice that make direct change. As someone passionate about equal civil rights for women and African Americans specifically, June motivates me to keep pursing results for worldwide humanitarian rights. Learning about June Eric-Udorie, can make someone wonder how can I use my words to add to important conversations about girls’ rights?
This is a guest blog by Imani Brooks. Imani serves as a 2015-16 Girl Up Teen Advisor and is a senior in high school.