Who Am I? Youth Conference

Opening with a song performance of Jessie J’s ‘Who you are’, Amaal Girls Project held its first youth conference for young women in Tower Hamlets last Monday. Titled ‘Who am I?’ the youth conference explored the issue of self-image, a major underlying cause for the barriers and challenges young women face to achievement.

The event featured a video documentary by young women. Girls took to the streets to get different perspectives and role played the common stereotypes in an effort to aid young women in understanding self-image and the factors that shape it. Young women also held a fashion show exhibiting clothes they made to present their identity, costumes to present different cultures and outfits to present affordable fashion to encourage young women to discover their own identity and embrace diversity. Over two hundred people attended the event bringing together young women from the different schools and PRUS in Tower Hamlets, and professionals working with them including representation from schools, youth projects and LBTH Children’s services. In attendance were special guests Lutfur Rahman, Executive Mayor LBTH, Zara Brownless, Young Apprentice winner for 2011, Alex Scott, player for England Women’s Football team, Councillor Rania Khan, LBTH Cabinet member for Culture and Tasmina Khanum, deputy young mayor for LBTH.

In sharing her experiences as a candidate of the young apprentice Zara Brownless told the girls “When I saw all these people auditioning for the apprentice I was scared. Then I told myself, I have talent, I have worth, I am not going to be intimidated by you. Now here I am winner of 2011”

Councillor Rania Khan enlightened the audience on body image and encouraged the girls to “fight for what you believe in, the experience can only make you stronger no matter the outcome”. The event also featured hair and beauty demos, a professional discourse on how to boost confidence by Helen Finch, psychotherapist from the University College London and an awards presentation with Alex Scott awarding positive engagement of young women, and the contribution of volunteers, apprentices and the staff team who worked effortlessly to make the day a success.

The day ended with a song performance of Adeles ‘Someone like you’ by young member Shanon Depaynville followed by a closing statement from the Project Manager Khadeja Begum; “if we think about why we are always trying to live up to expectations and follow trends, you will find that for a lot of us it’s the need to love someone and to be loved. Many young women restrict the concept of love to that between a boy and a girl in a relationship and forget the many other figures we have in our life to love and who love us, that can be your brother, your sister, your parents, your family and friends. The way they express their love may be different, for example your parents may not shower you with gifts and hug and kiss you but their love is in the discipline they give and the protection they provide.” Khadeja concluded saying “see yourself through your own eyes and not of others. Today’s event asked the question who am I? The performances and presentations have told us, we are individual and unique.”

Brenda Doku, contracts and monitoring officer at the LBTH told Amaal: “The theme, “Who am I”? was cleverly woven into the whole programme. It was good to also observe the inclusive contribution from notable national figures and a cross section of the community. I really enjoyed listening to all the speakers, the performances by the girls and young women certainly topped the bill; they owned the show and felt empowered to showcase their months of hard work. Adele has a serious contender in Shanon, in the way she performed ‘Someone Like You’.”

The conference was run in celebration of the opening of Osmani Centre where Amaal is based. Amaal works with girls and women to empower and enable them to realise their potential and contribute positively to society. For more information about Amaal and what’s on for girls project, email on Amaal@osmanitrust.org

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