Wales’s youth say equality for women is ‘more than a hashtag’ in annual message

·2-min read

Wales’s youth have called on people across the world to ensure equality for women and girls is “more than a hashtag” in an annual message.

Members of youth movement Urdd Gobaith Cymru have sent a message of peace and goodwill to the world on May 18 of every year for almost a century.

The first message was sent in 1922 in Morse Code and, in 2020, its modern equivalent in the form of a digital video was seen by over 37 million people in over 40 countries.

The theme of the 99th annual message, available in 65 languages, is Equality for Women and Girls and will see the Urdd help tackle period poverty in Wales by providing free period products at its residential centres, the National Eisteddfod culture festival, and national sports events.

Residential centres owned by the Urdd will be offered as relaxation retreats for groups of vulnerable women.

The peace and goodwill message, released on Tuesday, has been written by Swansea University students on behalf of the young people of Wales and warns the coronavirus pandemic has deepened pre-existing inequalities for women and girls.

Urdd’s CEO, Sian Lewis, said: “The Urdd is leading by example and ensuring gender equality on all levels, proving that this year’s peace message is more than a hashtag.

“Gender equality and girls’ and women’s rights are all important to a future that delivers for everyone.”

Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys, who was born in Cardiff and is a former member of the youth organisation, said he was “so proud” of this year’s theme.

He said: “As the largest youth organisation in Wales and at the ripe old age of 99, they have proved that they are as relevant today as they have ever been, by making pledges to help tackle period poverty and offer their residences to vulnerable women as retreats.”

Santhi Kaur Sandhu Dosanjh, 21, a final year biochemistry student at Swansea University who helped write the message, said: “One of the many topics we discussed during the Urdd’s Equality for Women and Girls workshop was period poverty, and the taboos surrounding menstruation.

“My family comes from Punjab, India, where charities are working hard to ensure access to education about menstruation, and freedom from stigmas and taboos.

“But this is a problem that exists around the world, including here in Wales – that is why I am so glad that the Urdd can help rectify the situation by supplying free menstrual materials at their residential centres and national activities.”

The Senedd building in Cardiff, home of the Welsh Parliament, is being lit up in the Urdd’s red, white and green colours on Tuesday in support of this year’s message.

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