Lou Reckinger from Voix de Jeunes Femmes Luxembourg is the focus of the latest in our series profiling young activists in Luxembourg.
Co-founder of Voix de Jeunes Femmes Luxembourg (voice of young women Luxembourg) Lou Reckinger has been active in the community since she was 6 and joined the scouts. But she says it wasn’t until quite late that she considered herself a “feminist”.
“I saw feminism as something for people in emerging countries. As I grew older and my body became the body of a young woman […] I saw friends having problems with consent or sexual assault, bad experiences, being talked down to,” the Luxembourger tells me.
After this watershed moment, Reckinger says she began seeing gender inequality everywhere: in TV shows, language, the way men and women work.
So, the young activist leaped at the chance when in 2017 at the age of 19, the Conseil National des Femmes du Luxembourg asked if she’d help set up and head a platform to promote equal opportunities among young women.
“It’s a platform of exchange and empowerment. We see that we need to spread girl love and build each other up instead of putting each other down,” Reckinger says.
The 132 or so members can choose how active they want to be. They communicate in English and Luxembourgish, mainly through Facebook and Instagram as well as at meetings and workshops, organised around university and school schedules (Reckinger is currently studying at HEC Lausanne).
“Our first campaign was called ‘Run like a girl’. It was an awareness campaign during the ING marathon, where we sold T-Shirts and bracelets. It was to say I’m proud to run like a girl, I am a girl.” The group also carries out workshops in schools and at festivals, has a show on Radio ARA and is active in lobbying. On the latter, they successfully lobbied to have the tax on tampons reduced. Their current target is to make the reading list of the final year of secondary more gender balanced. “All of the books are by men or about men,” Reckinger explains.
The platform approached the education ministry but was not able to convince it to change the list. “They said the teachers would need to put that in context to explain why there are no women, because apparently there were no women,” she says sceptically.
The response from teachers was equally disappointing. “So many teachers went against us said that we’re like the Nazis burning books,” she recalls. And this is not the only kind of resistance the platform faces.
Reckinger says it is now so common to receive hate mail that she feels sad for the people who write in. “How do they have so much time in their day to write hate emails, pages and pages, containing words like “slut” or “rape”? […] How scared must they be of equality? Either they’ve no idea how bad the situation is for women or they know exactly, and they are scared that it will turn around. I don’t know what’s more concerning.”
And it’s not only men who take issue with the feminist cause. Reckinger says sometimes at workshops with young women, the first challenge is explaining why “it’s great to be a feminist and why they should be proud to stand up for themselves.”
Fortunately, Reckinger is thick-skinned. This, she says, is because with the Voix de Jeunes Femmes she draws strength in numbers. But also, because she has a supportive family--her mother and grandmother are supporters of equal opportunities--and a network of friends. What is more, public recognition in the form of the Prix Anne Beffort (an award for female-focused initiatives), awarded to the platform in 2018, has convinced her that the group is pushing in the right direction.