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On the Future of Youth Work with Young Women

Batsleer, Janet and McCarthy, Karen (2019) On the Future of Youth Work with Young Women. In: Youth Work Global Futures - Pictures from the Developing World. Brill - Sense. ISBN 9004396535

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Abstract

This chapter will explore the potential future meanings of being woman not as secondary to men, nor as the ‘other’ of men, but through a lens of ‘difference’ and embodiment. It will explore the future of community based youth work as an example of community-based and intergenerational learning, which embraces individuals in small groups, networks and large coalitions and online spaces and connections. Against ‘necrophilic’ and intensely unsustainable ways of being-in-the world (of which capitalist and individualistic relations are the most powerful and damaging) this chapter will explore the connectedness of becoming woman with other ways of becoming, and other forms of life. It will offer a model of life-affirming practice which embraces but does not commodify difference. The question will be : what sort of inter-generational and transcultural spaces of learning will support the development and lives of girls and women in the future. Cities can provide some context for these explorations as they become home to more and more diverse communities seeking to live peacefully on common ground. Material for this chapter will be drawn from case studies in Manchester UK, from the Partispace Project currently being conducted in 8 European Cities and from Zimbabwe. The examples to be developed and worked through will be: Same sex love and relationship in the face of persecution; Mental Illness and frailty and our responses to it. By choosing examples where women’s lives have been defined and limited when seen as ‘the second sex’ and seen through other hierarchical oppressions such as racism it is hoped that we will be able to imagine a different and more affirmative future for practice. The need to challenge practices which shame and silence is not neglected here, but taken as read as the starting point from which an affirmative woman-centred practice might be developed. The aim will be to move away from liberal and individualistic accounts of feminist practice towards one rooted in an ethic of solidarity and care as a starting point.

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