24 years old
"It often feels that with youth participation some adults around the table are waiting for you to fail...you have to keep ten steps ahead and work really hard to prove yourself. I hope that one day we can keep our place at the table as our right, rather than as a luxury."
IWHC: How did you get involved in the struggle for women's and young people's rights?
Gemma Hobcraft: I got involved at the local level during high school as part of the School Council and then as a School representative on the local Youth Council. An issue exploded when a local Catholic School refused to allow condoms and anything more than biology-focused sex education to be available in the school. It got me very wound up and from there I just did what I could to start an awareness campaign about contraceptives and safe and enjoyable sex. more>>
GH: What inspired me was my initial experiences with the barriers facing young people in accessing information about their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Honestly, it was a total eye-opener being at the Youth Forum in the Hague. Everyone was talking about what 'developing countries' needed to do for reproductive health and I was just thinking – England isn't that great. more>>
GH: Our aim is definitely to effect change at all levels to ensure that SRHR are a reality for all young people. I hope that if we haven't already effected change that we are working towards it—or are at least chipping away at the barriers standing in the way of both meaningful youth participation and young people's SRHR. more>>
GH: By asking young people to the table! It distresses me greatly how so many people in decision-making roles just don't think sensibly about youth participation. They don't think about it early enough, if they think of it at all, which leaves young people playing catch up and in a situation feeling totally out of their depth. more>>
GH: The Countdown 2015 process as part of the ICPD Plus Ten review. Often young people are asked (or have to fight their way) to the table late in the process. For the Countdown 2015 Roundtable (to coincide with the ten year review of the ICPD Programme of Action in 2004) we were at the table from the first meeting and we definitely made the most of that. more>>
IWHC: What are your dreams for the future? Can you describe your vision of an ideal or better world?
GH: I think this may sound very cynical, but I try not to dream. I try to act on the here and now, and then just add hope. I try to focus on what I can do to chip away at a few bricks in the wall full of barriers to the full realization of SRHR. more>>
IWHC: How did you first become acquainted with IWHC?
GH: I think probably at the ICPD Plus 5 process during 1999, but more so during the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Children (CRC review) in 2002. IWHC representatives were a really strong force at both of these meetings and I was very impressed by their work. more>>