Upskirting and Upheaval

3 February 2021

Upskirting is the act or intention of taking photos up someone’s skirt without their consent.

Gina Martin is an activist, author, and campaigner. She created her national campaign ‘Upskirting’ in 2017, after she was targeted by an upskirter. Gina’s campaign aimed to make upskirting an offence in England and Wales by changing the law. Upskirting was implemented into law in April 2019 creating the Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019,  which now means that anyone caught upskirting can face up to two years in prison.

How the session went

The alumni session with Gina was based on her own personal experiences regarding her to tackle the issue of upskirting.

Gina was very informative and inspiring; it was great to hear her opinion on practical tips to bring about change, acknowledging privilege, balancing campaigning/activism and life and tips on taking the first step into activism such as, reaching out to campaigners who are already in the field.

She talked about her biggest challenges in campaigning and how she found difficulty in balancing her campaign whilst working a full time job. Within the session, she addressed her experiences and challenges and mentioned she would rather be exhausted fighting for something important than not fight at all. However, in presenting her case in Parliament she found it to be an intimidating experience.

The first step to creating change or even creating your own campaign is to do the research. Take in as much information as possible on the issue you’re passionate about. Have the confidence to take the next step; once you understand what you’re talking about, it’ll be easier to have the confidence to share your thoughts. Reach out to those already campaigning on the issue and find people who care about the same thing you do. Lastly, as Gina put it, “If you’re not going to quit, you’ve got to learn how to rest”.

What I learnt from the session

The process of turning bills into law is tricky and complicated. Gina went on to describe her experience in Parliament and mentioned that the government lacks in culture and is an ancient institution. It was interesting to hear Gina’s perspective and the process of law making.

Gina also went on to talk about practical ways to create change. Giving yourself permission to create change is key and don’t be too hard on yourself.

She shared advice that resonated with the audience. The session went down very well with the audience giving great feedback and thoughts.

Useful advice Gina gave

I could go on and on about the advice Gina shared because all her points were so inspiring, but I’ll share the advice that resonated with me the most.

Firstly, I found Gina’s advice on becoming an ally to those who are severely underrepresented in society refreshing. She talked about how she is not viewed as an anomaly because she fits the image of the ‘perfect activist’, a young white woman at the forefront bringing about change. She also discussed the importance of inclusion and communicating for people who don’t have a voice. Transgender and non–binary individuals are also affected by upskirting and how Gina pushed for the law to be gender neutral to protect everyone. Being an ally is about active listening to those that come from minority groups. It’s about giving individuals a platform or giving up space or even sharing information that comes directly from minorities. It’s about asking yourself, do they have a platform to have their say to project their own voices?

It was a pleasure to co-host the event with Uprising staff. Having Gina as a guest and listening to her speak was the highlight because she’s so inspiring and dedicated. Her motivation to her campaign was personal and commendable. She took her cause one step further by going to parliament and making upskirting an offence.

The advice she gave was so important for young leaders to make change and pave their own paths. I would recommend giving Gina’s book ‘Be The Change’ a read; it’s an amazing toolkit for beginner activists and campaigners. Lastly, I’ll leave you with this great piece of advice from her – “Give yourself permission to have your voice heard. You deserve to be in the room”.