ENSURING equality for women and girls is key for creating a better future worldwide and is “more than a hashtag”. 

This is the message conveyed in the 99th year of the annual Peace and Goodwill Message, “Equality for Women and Girls”, which has been released in a powerful video today (Tuesday May 18) by the youth movement Urdd Gobaith Cymru (Welsh League of Youth).

With the Covid-19 pandemic deepening pre-existing inequalities, the young people of Wales have decided to use the 2021 Urdd Peace and Goodwill Message as a platform to express their vision for a gender-equal generation. In a powerful message, they call on young people across the world to use the “new normal” to create a better future by ensuring equality for women and girls. 

In response to this year’s Message, the Urdd as an organisation is taking action by committing to the following:

• Help tackle period poverty in Wales by providing free menstrual materials at its Residential Centres, National Eisteddfod, and future national sports events (meaning that over 32,000 women and girls will have access to period products every year).
• The Urdd’s Residential Centres will be offered as relaxation retreats for groups of vulnerable women.
• Equality for women on all central Urdd Boards will be ensured.
• The organisation will continue its support for women in training and leadership, particularly in sport.

On the 18th of May for the past 99 years the young people of Wales have shared a unique message of Peace and Goodwill, which has been received far and wide. The Urdd succeeded in getting 2020’s peace message, ‘Stop the Clock and Start Again’ further across the world than ever before. By translating the message into 57 languages and with a little help from their Welsh friends, such as Catherine Zeta-Jones, Matthew Rhys and Michael Sheen, over 37 million people in over 40 countries were able to see the almost century-old Message of Peace and Goodwill.

The 2021 Urdd Peace and Goodwill Message has been co-written by 21 Swansea University students after attending the organisation’s ‘Equality for Women and Girls’ workshop. It is available in over 65 languages, which makes it the Urdd’s most translated Peace Message to date.

Urdd Gobaith Cymru’s CEO, Siân Lewis, said: “The Urdd is leading by example and ensuring gender equality on all levels, proving that this year’s Peace Message is more than a hashtag. Gender equality and girls’ and women’s rights are all important to a future that delivers for everyone. 

“We are very grateful to Academi Hywel Teifi, Swansea University for supporting the Message. It has been a privilege to work with the University given its clear commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusivity. The students’ enthusiasm and commitment to the Message and to making a difference is infectious – I am confident the Message will strike a chord across the world, and result in action.”

Shannon Rowlands of Newcastle Emlyn, who contributed to writing this year’s Peace and Goodwill Message, said: “As a medical student, I’ve experienced and heard about instances of discrimination against women in medicine. Patients have taken for granted that I’m a student nurse instead of doctor because I’m a woman, and some of my female friends who aspire to be surgeons have unfortunately been told they should reconsider it as a career if they want children.

“I’ve been so fortunate to meet incredibly inspiring women while on work placements, proving that women can work in any area they want. Things are certainly improving, but there is still work to be done – and I am sure the same is true of other professions.”

The Peace and Goodwill Message is unique to Wales and has been relayed each year without fail since 1922, overcoming wars and major changes in methods of communication, from Morse Code to radio and television broadcast to the digital networks of today.

The 2021 Urdd Peace and Goodwill Message can be read in over 65 languages here.