Are you a feminist organisation?
Yes, GFS is a feminist organisation in that we support and advocate for women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.
Why do you only allow girls to take part in sessions?
The Equality Act recognises that some equality groups (e.g. women) are disadvantaged in some areas of life as a consequence of past or current discrimination and exclusion. The Act enables employers and providers of services to take steps to help particular groups overcome disadvantage and meet needs that are different from the needs of other groups. Focusing attention on the needs of girls does not dismiss the serious issues facing boys and men.
Why do you only recruit female volunteers and staff to work directly with girls?
Under the Equality Act, employees may provide girls and young women with personal services, promoting their welfare or education, which can be provided most effectively by a person of the same sex. This could entail counselling in areas such as sex, pregnancy, health and welfare. The young women also need positive role models to build self-esteem and help them take responsibility for their lives. Due to the nature of our work many of our posts are restricted to female applicants only.
Safety, both physical and emotional, is a key benefit of women-only services. As a result, women feel supported and comfortable. They become empowered and develop confidence, greater independence and higher self-esteem. They are less marginalised and isolated and feel more able to express themselves. Women using these services feel that their voices are heard and listened to. Through sharing their experiences to make sense of the world together, they develop a sense of solidarity.
Studies have shown that accessing single-sex space is important for girls and young women. A review by YWCA and Girlguiding UK found that girls and young women were enthusiastic about having time away from boys and benefited from having women leaders as role models. They also found that single-sex spaces encouraged girls to take more risks, express themselves and develop their self-confidence. In mixed gender settings, boys tended to dominate the space which reduced girls’ confidence. A single-sex environment also helps girls and young women to think about and challenge gender stereotypes.
Can men work or volunteer for GFS?
Yes, provided that the role does not require regular engagement with girls and young women participating in GFS sessions. These could include office-based roles, occasional roles (such as driving a minibus) and guest instructors, speakers and facilitators.
Is there a uniform?
We like to keep sessions as relaxed and informal as possible, so do not enforce an official uniform. Some girls and young women go straight to GFS after school and attend in their school uniform, However, if a girl or young woman would like to purchase a GFS t-shirt or other item of clothing, these can be organised through their group leader. They are welcome to wear these at sessions if they would prefer to.