Research involving children and young people on their experiences of gender and sexual violence has changed Welsh legislation, sparked youth activism on sexual injustice and violence, and is reshaping relationships and sexuality education in schools.

Impacts

  • Findings from Professor Emma Renold’s research on the role of education in preventing gender and sexual violence were extensively cited by the Welsh Government in the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (VAWDASV) Act, passed in 2015.
  • As a member of the Welsh Government's National VAWDASV Advisory Group, Professor Renold's research shaped the #thisisme campaign to challenge harmful gender stereotypes that underpin gender and sexual violence
  • Working with over 50 young people, Professor Renold co-produced the bilingual online toolkit 'AGENDA: a young people's guide to making positive relationships matter'. In the first 12 months it reached 1,400 young people, 1,000 practitioners, 500 teachers and 100 academics.
  • The toolkit's activities and core principles of rights, gender equity and social justice have been endorsed and embedded into the practice of key organisations that provide Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) across Wales.
  • Forty young people were trained as AGENDA youth ambassadors, some of these sharing the toolkit resource with the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children and at the UN headquarters in New York.
  • Professor Renold was Chair of the Cabinet Secretary for Education's expert panel on the future of SRE in Wales, and consultant to the new health and wellbeing curriculum. Following findings and recommendations the Welsh Government is overhauling the SRE curriculum. The new 'relationships and sexuality education', which will be statutory for 5-16 year olds, will be embedded in the curriculum and introduced in 2022.

"Without AGENDA we wouldn't have started our health relationships group 'We are More' in our school. We can make a change in society with AGENDA, and change is what is vitally needed right now." (Llayda, AGENDA youth ambassador, Mountain Ash Comprehensive School)

About the research

Over the last seven years Professor Renold has been co-creating research, engagement events, forums and a national resource with young people to ensure their views are heard and acted upon. Her research and expertise has also helped inform the vision of a new relationships and sexuality education curriculum in Welsh schools.

Building on her extensive long-term collaborations and partnerships with schools, youth groups, third sector agencies, artists, academics and Welsh government, Professor Renold co-created AGENDA. This online toolkit builds on more than 10 years’ experience of working with feminist participatory and arts-based methodologies. It supports young people to speak out creatively and safely on gender and sexual injustices and violence through a range of formats, such as visual arts, poetry, dance and theatre.

"Young people have been mobilising and creating some wonderful change-making moments and movements, from flashmobs and silent statues in school canteens to address abusive sexual 'banter' to informing Welsh and European manifestos on sexuality and relationships education," she says.

Other examples include STOP/START plates used to create a 'line of action' on what needs to be changed, skirts made from grafittied rulers to demonstrate against unwanted touching and abusive comments, glass jars to collect and share views with policymakers on how current sex education affects (jars) young people, a 'runway of disrespect' and inviting children to stamp out all the violence in the world, writing songs and performing dramas on issues that matter to young people, from LGBTQ rights to mental health.

"Our story shows what's possible when children and young people are supported to be part of decision-making processes and drive change-making practices to address issues that are all too often sensationalised, simplified and silenced," Professor Renold adds.