Interview with: Eva Carroll, student at Carmel College

Educate meets inspirational Carmel College student Eva Carroll and discovers her passion for politics, dedication to women’s rights and thrill at becoming a member of the UK Youth Parliament.

By Lawrence Saunders

Many 17-year-old girls might find the prospect of addressing packed benches in the House of Commons a nerve-racking one, but not Eva Carroll.

“I can’t wait – I’m really excited!” says the Carmel College pupil who is currently studying English Literature, politics and history A-levels.

After being elected a member of the UK Youth Parliament in March, Eva will be making the trip down to London later this year as part of UK Parliament Week.

The UK Youth Parliament gives young people a voice on the issues affecting them – a voice Eva has been expressing loud and proud since her early teens.

Aged 13, she was nominated to attend Liverpool Schools’ Parliament – the city’s youth voice assembly where youngsters come together to debate a range of issues and welcome visits from local decision makers including Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram.

Eva’s involvement with politics and social issues was in part stirred by her mother, Nadine, who gave her daughter the confidence to stand up for what she believes in.

One cause which is particularly close to Eva’s heart is women’s rights and at Carmel she has been able to put that passion into action.

“I’ve always been concerned with women’s rights and I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to make life a little bit easier for girls,” says Eva.

“I thought that free sanitary products was quite an easy thing to do.”

Eva put the idea to Carmel’s student council and with the help of a teacher, organised for sanitary products to be placed in the main college toilets.

Keen to facilitate debate around women’s rights at her college, Eva also founded the Feminist Discussion Group which enables students to talk about important topics within today’s society and highlight the role that feminism plays.

“When I started college, my friends and I encountered blatant sexism and we found that we needed a support network, so I thought ‘why don’t we just do a feminist discussion group?’,” she says.

“At the start we didn’t know what it was going to look like. I went out on my own and put a few posters up and used my Twitter to publicise it.

“The first week about 10 people attended but it really started to grow after that and now we have 20-30 people coming.

“Initially it was just going to be me running sessions but I found that once the discussions got opened up, a lot of people wanted to present on issues which were close to them.”

Members of the discussion group, which has a 50/50 gender split, have given PowerPoint presentations on a range of different topics including trans rights, the LGBT community and street harassment.

The presentations are then uploaded to Carmel’s website where they act as a resource for students and teachers alike.

Eva is also a member of the Plan International UK Youth Advisory Panel which runs a national campaign against street harassment called ‘I Say It’s Not OK’.

Eva brought the initiative into the Feminist Discussion Group and students created a video about how street harassment makes them feel, the consequences of it and how they can call it out.

Sadly, Eva has first hand experience of exactly how street harassment can make a young girl feel.

A few months ago she was walking down a busy street hand in hand with her boyfriend when a group of boys came past and one forcefully slapped her backside.

“I was completely taken aback – especially given all the work I’d been doing around street harassment,” says Eva.

“I knew what it meant and what it signified, so I was really hurt and felt helpless.”

Eager for something positive to come out her experience, Eva submitted a motion to stop street harassment at the annual sitting of the UK Youth Parliament.

All 300 delegates from around the UK vote on which issues should go onto the parliament’s manifesto.

Eva’s bill past by over 90%, and could end up on the ‘Make Your Mark’ ballot – five issues which will be debated in the House of Commons by UK Youth Parliament members (MYPs).

Regardless of whether her motion makes it onto the ballot, Eva will accompany other MYPs to the House of Commons in November as no stranger to the parliamentary arena.

In March, she captained eight Lower Sixth Carmel students to first place in the European Youth Parliament Debating Competition held at Liverpool Town Hall.

Alongside her fellow A-level politics students, Eva engaged in six different debates with topics ranging from Gibraltar to the ethics of the fashion industry.

After victory at the town hall, Carmel’s team advanced forward to the European Youth Parliament National Finals at Liverpool Hope University earlier this summer.

It was at this prestigious event where Eva presented her resolution booklet on the sex industry in Europe.

“We prioritised worker’s human rights above all else and looked at ways to ensure their voices were listened to, regardless of the status of the sex industry in the country,” she explains.

“Improving the socio-economic conditions of women to prevent them feeling a need to enter the job out of necessity was also a key issue we tackled, as well as supporting the autonomy of workers if they wished to continue willingly whilst still pinpointing the victims of human trafficking and offering full support to them.”

Eva’s report further demonstrated her passion for telling stories that need to be told, and when paired with her political know-how, it’s no surprise that she plans to pursue a career in political journalism after hopefully studying English literature at the University of Cambridge.

Whichever profession she chooses, the future certainly looks bright for this inspirational young woman.

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