In 2013 Maslaha were funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to develop a toolkit that would practically illustrate our approach to tackling social issues affecting disadvantaged communities on an international scale. The idea was for Maslaha to build on its experience of working with disadvantaged communities in the UK and create a toolkit relevant to Paris.
Statistics relating to educational attainment, employment and occupation illustrate that young people from disadvantaged city areas (and in particular the suburbs) face striking inequality of opportunity:
The unemployment levels of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years old in ZUS (Sensitive Urban Areas) are at 40.4%, compared with 21.6% in other areas.
37.1% of college students living in ZUS are at least one year behind at school, compared to 20.7% in other areas.
Girls educated in ZUS have less success in the first year of the French GSCE equivalent compared to those from other areas.
Only 14.8% of women older than the age of 15 have 2 years higher education or more, compared with 29.9% in other areas.
In the case of those ZUS women who have the same qualifications as women from other areas, the rate of unemployment among ZUS women at the start of their working life is often higher.
(Sources: Rapport ONZUS 2012; Rapport ONZUS 2010; Formations et emploi, Insee, Edition 2011)
In addition, our qualitative research found that young female high school students from the suburbs lack self-esteem and confidence in themselves, have a great deal of difficulty in expressing their dreams and understanding career ladders, have a tendency to go along with things rather than to choose their own direction, and they lack role models who they can identify with – there are very few visible role models from similar backgrounds in mainstream media.
What We Did
Maslaha decided to work with Athina Marmorat to develop a project targeting young women in the suburbs. This pilot project targeted young women between the ages of 16 and 20 from disadvantaged communities in Sensitive Urban Zones (ZUS – Zones Urbaines Sensibles) in the Parisian suburbs. The aim of the project was to build confidence and raise the aspirations of participants (from a variety of ethnic backgrounds) through educational workshops and by introducing them to local female role models with whom they could identify. These workshops were unique because in reality there are very few projects in Paris targeting the needs of young women from minority ethnic backgrounds and ZUS neighbourhoods, and using innovative practice to do so.
We were incredibly pleased that following our work in Paris with Athina and the participants in 2013, that Rev’Elles has been developed into an independent organisation. Athina secured funding and support from the KPMG Foundation and United States Embassy to run a second phase of workshops in April 2014. Following the success of these workshops, Rev’Elles was entered to compete for the ‘Trophees des Associations,’ a national competition organised by the EDF Foundation. We are delighted that they were successful in picking up the coveted ‘Favorite’ award and with it a grant to invest into the sustainability of the organisation.’