A first of its kind conference aimed at breaking down gender equality barriers by helping young people in Wales to influence government policy will take place at Cardiff City Hall this week.

The Unity Youth Gender Equality Conference, the first ever national gender equality conference dedicated to young people in Wales, will give future generations the opportunity to share their views on gender equality in front of key decision makers, in a bid to help shape a fairer and more equal nation.

Held on the 22nd of June, the event, organised by the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) and Full Circle Education, a South Wales based social enterprise, will be attended by Sally Holland, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, along with hundreds of young people from across Wales, aged from 14 to 21 years old.

The Children’s Commissioner for Wales will deliver a keynote speech to outline the Welsh Government’s commitment to equality and education. Additional speeches will be given by Dr Emma Renold from Cardiff University and Sharon Lovell, Director of NYAS Cymru.

The conference is part of a wider three-year initiative from NYAS Cymru, aimed at promoting gender equality and supporting young women in Wales, which is funded by a grant from the government’s Tampon Tax Fund.

As well as delivering a gender equality youth conference every year for the next three years, the initiative will comprise an education programme, providing workshops on gender equality and healthy relationships to schools, youth centres and residential care establishments across Wales.

The third element of the initiative is an advocacy project, designed to help young mothers who have been through the care system themselves to reduce the risk of their own children going into care. Research into the effectiveness of the project will be presented to Welsh Government to encourage wider adoption of the approach recommended by NYAS Cymru. Sharon Lovell will officially launch the project at the Unity conference.

The conference audience will also hear inspirational stories from a number of young speakers, who will share their own experiences and talk about what gender equality looks like to them.

Themes being explored at the event include; healthy relationships, gender stereotyping, LGBT youth and gender identity, health and gender and the role of men and boys. The conference will also look at aspirations and opportunities to release wales’ potential if it were to become the first gender-equal country in the world.

As well as stimulating ideas and discussion, the event will provide a platform for a range of youth-focused organisations to engage with young people, via a market stall exhibition area. Exhibitors will include Amnesty International and Voices from Care.

Sharon Lovell, Director of NYAS Cymru said, “We are hugely excited about this first conference-a ground-breaking event that is perfectly timed given recent high-profile, gender equality awareness campaigns. Gender equality is high on the agenda for many young people across Wales, and we know, through our constant engagement with young people that they want to see change and want to influence what that change looks like. The Unity conference will give young people a chance to talk directly with key decision makers, empowering them to drive the gender equality agenda forward.”

Sally Holland, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales said, “Gender inequality is one of the most common concerns raised with me by young people across Wales. Today is an opportunity to highlight the harm it causes, and how an equal society benefits everyone.

‘All children and young people have a right to be the best they can be. We must support, empower, and inspire them to reach their full potential and remove any of the barriers that get in their way.’

The Unity Youth Gender Equality Conference is supported by a steering group that includes representatives from NYAS Cymru, Cardiff University, Tros Gynnal Plant, Voices from Care and Full Circle Education.