This week marks 20 years since the Spice Girls exploded into public consciousness with their debut single, Wannabe.
Years before Taylor Swift and her gang of supermodels, Posh, Sporty, Ginger, Baby and Scary were the original #SquadGoals. Fearless, funny and all about ‘Girl Power’, their arrival prompted something like an early feminist awakening for a generation of young girls.
But the Girls themselves never affiliated themselves directly with feminism. They were a billion-dollar brand, after all, and feminism wasn’t particularly fashionable in the mid-90s. If they were part of the movement at all, they skated around on its surface, shouting about the importance of self-belief and having a good time with your mates rather than asking bigger questions about gender inequality.
How times change. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Wannabe, a new, blisteringly good remake of the video has been released – and it’s confronting some seriously important issues about global women’s rights.
In the video, titled #WhatIReallyReallyWant, female artists from India, Nigeria, South Africa, Canada, the USA and the UK dance to the Spice Girl’s iconic track through city streets, rural classrooms, and grand buildings.
As they go, they highlight some of the major problems facing women and girls today – from gender-based violence to child marriage, access to education, and equal pay.
“Girl Power has come a long way,” reads a message at the end of the film. “Let’s take it further.”
The video forms part of the Global Goals campaign, promoted by Notting Hill director Richard Curtis’s initiative Project Everyone, to raise awareness and fight for the rights of girls and women around the world.
In September 2015, several countries signed up to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, fix climate change, and tackle inequality.
Because these issues disproportionately affect females, Project Everyone wants the needs of women and girls to be prioritised. Ahead of the first anniversary of the adoption of the Global Goals, the makers of the video are encouraging people to share a photo of themselves on social media telling world leaders what they “really really want” for women and girls around the world.
Visual responses from social media will be presented to world leaders at the UN General Assembly in September 2016, to encourage governments to make new political and financial commitments in support of women’s rights.
“I think this film is a wonderful idea,” she says. “How fabulous that after 20 years, the legacy of the Spice Girls – ‘Girl Power’ – is being used to encourage and empower a whole new generation.”