The stories that enrage and sustain us.
 
rage \ respite
edition 08
the stories that enrage and sustain us.
The salt mines of Peru via @tomorrowcreates
rage
A decade from now, the world will still be talking about the time we all stayed home. Families will still be grieving lost loved ones, business owners will remember the economic strain and all of us will remember the anger, sadness and despair of a world plunged into the depths of an unpredictable pandemic. But no one will still be feeling the effects of the pandemic in the way young people will.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, young people have experienced higher instances of job loss, economic insecurity and educational disruption than older Australians. We will inherit a budget deficit that will likely last a decade, so young people will be the ones footing the bill for the ongoing Covid recovery, as older and wealthier people enjoy their tax breaks.


People aged 15-24 accounted for almost 40% of job losses when the pandemic hit, and students shifted to online learning, causing immense disruption to their education. For those young people living in the lowest socio-economic areas, the economic consequences have been even harsher.

These years of early adulthood are fundamental to the future-proofing of young peoples' education, careers and personal development. Researchers have flagged this economic and educational disruption as a key area for monitoring in the coming years. The long-term consequences are unknown.

Health wise, we haven't fared well either. Young people have experienced higher levels of psychological distress than older Australians; one in two have reported feeling unable to carry out their usual daily tasks due to a decline in mental wellbeing. Alarmingly, it has also been reported that rates of confirmed cases of Covid amongst people aged 20-24 and 25-29 were higher than all other age groups, except for those aged 85+. The effects of 'long Covid' are still not well understood, and young people will be the demographic dealing with this uncertainty the most.

All of this considered, it was particularly bitter this week to have NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant administer a "wake up call to young people" about the seriousness of Covid, given that there are people under 35 in ICU. This was compounded by the federal government's latest fear mongering ad campaign that shows a woman, clearly younger than 40, suffocating on a ventilator in hospital. And yet, people under 40 are not eligible for the health advices' preferred vaccine.

"If Granny asks to come over for tea, ask her to do it over the phone instead" Dr Chant said, in another stark reminder that it's up to young people to shoulder the responsibility of this pandemic.

Young people don't need a wake up call. We are wide awake to the fact that we will be living with the fall out of this pandemic for years to come, it will affect our lives forever. Instead, we need support. We need to be vaccinated. We need our leaders to step up and take responsibility, instead of passing the buck to Australian young people.
respite
In any crisis, women and girls fare far worse than their male counterparts. The global pandemic is no different.

In India, there has been a steep rise in child marriages since the beginning of the pandemic, June and July of 2020 alone saw a 17% increase. With schools closing and work becoming scarce, and restrictions meaning smaller, and cheaper, weddings - some families have been looking for suitable husbands for their teenage daughters.


But a grassroots movement, led by one girl and her friends, is
rising up against a class and gender system that seeks to keep them out of the classroom and push them into domesticity. Priyanka Bairwa was 15 when her parents found a suitable boy from their village who would become her husband. After countless arguments and her threatening to run away, Priyanka's parents relented and called off the engagement. Instead, Priyanka went to college and founded Rajasthan Rising.

The movement of women and girls campaigns for free education to age 17 and scholarships for tertiary studies, which in turn would lead to a reduction in child marriage and labour.

With Rajasthan Rising, Priyanka and ten of her friends visited nearby villages to meet with other girls, educating them about their rights, and caste and gender discrimination. Soon, they had over 100 girls in their movement, and then over 1,200. The girls learned to use the internet as a force for good and began contacting political leaders to whom they would present their goals. They painted anti-child marriage and pro-education messages on the walls and took to the streets.

Together, the group have stopped countless child marriages and have met with state leaders to demand change. Backed by education activists and village leaders, the girls are confident that they can achieve their goal to keep more girls in school.

Vineeta Meena, 20, joined Rajasthan Rising and believes they are changing how people in their region view child marriage. “Being part of this collective makes me feel that we are no less than anyone. We can do anything. I feel more free.”

ritual
The greatest comfort I've found in lockdown (apart from the whales we met in edition 06) is nostalgia; the dreaming of bygone days. A time when one crisis didn't dominate the headlines, when we could see our friends, go to gigs, go on holiday, and not have to worry about contracting a deadly disease. So I've been relishing a deep dive into the painfully simple world of Sex and the City, where Carrie's biggest worry is that a dog chewed her shoe.

But while the poorly aged show only tells the story of white women, there is an absurd, reductive joy to be found in the 1990s of New York City. The campest gay bars, the most whimsical tutus and the most clichéd love stories. In many ways, it doesn't feel like the world of Sex and the City exists on our earth. And during lockdown, maybe there's something to enjoy in that.



This newsletter is created on the unceded lands of the Bidjigal and Gadigal people of the Eora nation. I pay my respects to their elders past and present.
A newsletter by Georgia Gibson.
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