The International Gender and Girlhood Exchange is an ongoing series of exchanges and dialogues on issues related to gender studies and  girlhood. The series dates back to  October, 2010 when the Girls Action Foundation and the Participatory Cultures Lab of McGill University convened a one day symposium, bringing together policy makers, community members, reserachers and activists. 

Since 2010 it has grown to include researchers from Russia, Sweden and South Africa, and has moved around with one or two events taking place in Moscow, Sundsvall, Sweden, and soon, South Africa.

Information coming soon!

Webinar: “Picturing rurality and its gendered dimension”

The webinar will take place on the 24th of February between 3 PM to 5 PM Swedish time and between 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM Canadian (EST) time.

In the process of producing rurality we are all makers of rurality. It is a process that blends a grassroots approach to community development with photography, photographic technique and social action. We argue that there is a need for a more critical exploration of the power of pre-given constructions of the rural. To problematize the kaleidoscope of culturally mediated images through which rurality is made sense. We welcome images, pictures and text that enables us to discuss our understanding of what rurality is and can be. But also important is to highlight what is missing in the pictures and texts about rurality.

The seminar is open (but not limited) to discuss the following questions:

  • What does it mean to study rurality?
  • How to approach rurality
  • How can we go beyond images of a declining rurality?
  • How is rurality gendered?

Networks for Change and Well-being
International Gender and Girlhood Exchange

With a special focus on violence and harassment
against girls and young women


Thursday, December 4, 2014, 10:30-17:00

Room M 301 M- House (Humlegården)
Mid Sweden University
Campus Sundsvall

 Coffee and sandwich

 Introduction and welcome
Katja Gillander Gådin 10:30 – 10:45

 Experiences of violence in high school – an intersectional perspective
Karin Jarnkvist, MIUN 10:45 – 11:05

 Gender equality aspirations among Swedish students – a gender and class perspective
Lasse Reinikainen, MIUN 11:05 – 11:25

 R-Bank= RelationBank. Knowledge based on people’s experiences of healthy and dysfunctional relationships
Anna Källdén, Kampanj R 11:25 – 12:00

12:00 – 13:00

 Sexual harassment in schools – prevalence, expression, intervention and preventive work
Frida Warg and Johanna Wilkens, Friends 13:00 – 13:30

 Girls and gender-based violence in and around schools in rural South Africa.
Katie MacEntee, McGill University 13:30 – 14:00

 Girls’ activism in relation to sexual violence
Claudia Mitchell, McGill University 14:00 – 14:30

 Coffee and fruit

 Health impact of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence against young women in rural areas
Heidi Carlerby, MIUN 14:45 – 15:05

 The doing and undoing of risk for violence and harassment in public places
Katarina Giritli Nygren, MIUN 15:05 – 15:25

 Strategies for the future
15:25 -16:00

Mingle and opening of the exhibition: SITUATED SOCIAL CHANGE
By Heléne Zetterström Dahlqvist and Lasse Reinikainen
16:00 – 17:00

After work at hotel Clarion

Networks for Change and Well0being
International Gender and Girlhood Exchange


Tuesday, September 4, 2014, 10:30-16:00

Room M301 M- House (Humlegården)
Mid Sweden University
Campus Sundsvall

Coffee and sandwich

 Introduction and welcome
Katja Gillander Gådin 10:30 – 10:45

Photovoice as a method for increased knowledge of gender based violence against girls and how school can support and protect victims
Karin Jarnkvist 10:45 – 11:10

 Policing governance and human trafficking
Susanne Strand 11:10 – 11:30

Cultural heritage in development
Anna Molin 11:35 – 11:55

12:00 – 13:15

Girl-led ‘from the ground up’ policy making to address sexual violence in Canada and South Africa
Claudia Mitchell 13:15 – 14:15

Preliminary research-in progress presentations
Åsa Warnqvist, Evelina Landstedt, Erika Wall, Heléne Zetterström Dahlqvist, Heidi Carlerby
14:20 – 15.45 (including a coffee break)

Summing up
Katja Gillander Gådin
15:45 – 16.00

Networks for Change and Well-being
International Gender and Girlhood Exchange
Monday, December 16, 2013 9:00-4:30

Room 200 Coach House, 3715 Peel Street

Welcome and Introductions

Forum for Gender Studies: University of Mid-Sweden*
Katja Gillander Gådin, Katarina Giritli Nygren, Sara Nyhles


 New findings on issues and challenge facing girls and young women in Canada
11:00 -12:00
Chair: Sandra Weber
Girls’ Action Foundation: Saman Ahsan, Juniper Glass

 Update: Status of Women Canada
Kyna Boyce

 Catered Lunch (Room 221)
12:15- 1:00

Photovoix “AVISE” avec les femmes rurales et les jeunes filles
Myriam Gervais and Lysanne Rivard

Chair: Marnina Gonick

Positive girls
Tatiana Fraser
Participatory monitoring research in education: An interdisciplinary dialogue with girls with disabilities in Viet Nam
Thuy Nguyen & Claudia Mitchell
Girls and social media: Emergent research questions
Caroline Caron
17th to 19th century girls’ domestic activities as DIY culture
Jacqueline Reid-Walsh


Research Roundtable
Conversations: What are we learning about gender and girls’ lives and what’s methodology got to do with it?
Chair and moderator: Ann Smith
Barbara Hunting, Katie MacEntee, Lukas Labacher, M-J Kim, Cora Conway, Lysanne Rivard, Fatima Khan, Haidee Lefebvre, Casey Burkholder

 Collective Biography in Girlhood Research*
Chair: Mary Cullinan
Marnina Gonick

 Brief Wrap-up 


Book Launch: Memory

 Productive Remembering and Social Agency (Teresa Strong-Wilson; Claudia Mitchell, Susann Allnutt & Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan)

 With contributors from Memory and Pedagogy (Claudia Mitchell, Teresa Strong-Wilson, Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan & Susann Allnuttand Collective Biography (GHS 6:1) (guest editors Marnina Gonick and Susanne Gannon) 


Wine and Cheese

 *The first presentation from the team of researchers from the University of Mid-Sweden and the last presentation from Marnina Gonick of Mount Saint Vincent University reflect the two latest issues of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal: GHS (6:1) “Making method in Girlhood Studies: Collective Biography” and GHS (6:2) Nordic “Girls’ Studies: Current Themes and Theoretical Approaches”.

 Sponsored by Participatory Cultures Lab, Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Finding Girlhood
A Roundtable on Girlhood Studies: Agendas and Prospects in Russia

Pamela Teitelbaum

Landing in Moscow in the late afternoon December 5, 2012 was the beginning of a short trip marked by the first-ever Roundtable on Girlhood Studies: Agendas and Prospects in Russia. This day-long roundtable was a part of a two-day long conference entitled “The 21st Century Woman: New Opportunities and New Challenges”. This roundtable held on 7 December 2012 was organized as a collaboration between Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, the Gorbachev Foundation, and the Heinrich Böll Foundation hosted by the International Foundation for Socio-Economic and Journal of Social Policy Studies (The Gorbachev Foundation in Moscow). Best described by Olga Zdravomyslova, Executive Director of the Gorbachev Foundation (Moscow):
“The Round Table on Girlhood Studies: Agenda and Prospects is interesting and important for us not only from a theoretical perspective but truly as an interdisciplinary dialogue in relation to girlhood, thereby expanding the vision that has historically taken shape in Russian gender studies. We hope that the Round Table that brought together Russian scholars and young researchers will produce a wider public debate about girls in Russia, as they become a more visible part of the population in modern culture.”

The first day of the conference brought together Russian scholars and nongovernmental organization (NGO) representatives – including Mr. Gorbachev — with international ones from Canada, Germany, and the United to discuss women’s issues and gender studies. Discussions began with presentation topics ranging from the role of women as active citizens during periods of resistance starting within the gulags to more contemporary examples of technology driven activism among women in the United States, and examples of the exploitation and victimization of women in Claudia Mitchell’s presentation that began with a narrative regarding the mass murder of 14 young women engineering students in Montreal during the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre. The end of the first day culminated with critical examinations of varying perspectives of feminist thought and how to apply a feminist perspective to girlhood studies, as well as my presentation on the critical assessment of how NGOs leading young women and girl-focused virtual communities in Canada and abroad are using and valuing social and digital media. This day was both insightful and critical to current perspectives on women’s participation in the political, social and cultural spheres.

The second day of the conference was organized as a roundtable entitled “Girlhood Studies: Agendas and Prospects”. Claudia Mitchell and I were keynote speakers for this event, invited by Olga Zdravomyslova, Executive Director of the Gorbachev Foundation (Moscow). The Roundtable speakers included eight Russian scholars and journal editors/publishers from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samsara and Saratov. There were an eclectic variety of presentations examining and investigating areas of girlhood studies from the evolution of scholarly developments that saw the launch of the Girlhood Studies: an Interdisciplinary Journal to critically investigating the linkages between girl-friendly organizations through their use of online communities. There were presentations on the lack of girl-specific demographic research in Russia, and the representation of ‘the girl’ in Russian films focused on the girl/teacher social and cultural dynamic. Other presentations examined the traditional and modern dress for young girls in Russia; and finally, an overview of historical developments that have put girlhood studies on the table in Russia. As Olga Zdravomyslova commented in her pre-conference notes:

“A new generation of girls is fast entering into the social life in Russia. This is the generation of the Internet, social networks and global mass culture. They speak in a different voice, raise new issues and seek to get answers to them. It seems, they are really new generation – pushing, independent, self-reliant and they are more sensitive towards gender equality issue and feminist thinking. Indeed, they are amazingly diverse and we know very little about them. Despite the fact that gender studies in Russia emerged in the early 1990s and have already become a multidisciplinary research area, Girlhood studies have always been fragmented and dispersed in them – girls are still very rarely seen by Russian researchers as a separate age and gender group. It can be safely said that girlhood studies have not grown beyond the boundaries of traditional descriptive approaches whereby girlhood is viewed as a closed, undeveloped world, a “pre-life”. It’s as if girls are denied the right to reflect or act. However today, Russian society is increasingly concerned about the ways girls move into adulthood – and sometimes falls into moral panic, shows an over-sensitive or even aggressive reaction to girls’ unexpected advocacy or other offbeat patterns of behaviour.”

It was an honour to be invited to collaborate and participate in these historical events. It was only once the two-day activities began that we truly understood the significance of this dialogue among academics, researchers, journal publishers and practitioners from a variety of disciplines and sectors of society within the Russian context. As a relatively new field of study within Russia, girlhood research is rather sparse. However, the scholars and practitioners participating in the Roundtable were deeply dedicated and committed to discussing what steps are needed to push a girlhood agenda forward within their national and local contexts. Therefore, the significance of the roundtable was enriching and enlightening in terms of contributions to this field in general. One foundational and critical piece of knowledge that emerged out of these discussions during this valuable event was the need to further consider how to “grow a girlhood field of study if there is no advocacy for this field along the way”. Questions continued to focus on “what is girlhood in the 21st century? What does it look like? What do we need to know? and How do we need to know it?” specifically in the context of Russia.

The Roundtable ended with people feeling a sense of accomplishment. The general attitude seemed to be one of ‘looking forward’ towards critical discussions on how to create change in the near future. Change that sees girlhood studies as a staple interdisciplinary field of academic research on the campuses of Russian universities and research institutes, and written into the pages of academic peer-reviewed journals that examine the Russian social, political, economic and cultural spheres.

We left the Gorbachev Foundation that snowy evening in Moscow with a sense of excitement and ideas for collaborative opportunities, for working further with these exceptionally dedicated scholars and NGO representatives.
For further information about The Gorbachev Foundation in Moscow, please go to


Click on the link to access some of the talks presented during the event. Video Icon 

The Girlhood Exchange: Dialogues between and amongst practitioners, researchers and policy makers working with and for girls

Comparative and International Education Society
Fairmount Queen Elizabeth Montréal. Floor C, Duluth.
May 5, 2011 1:45-3:15

This panel comes out of a recognition that the lives of girls and young women are not easily and neatly carved up as ‘policy’ and ‘practice’, or as ‘global’ (development in the Global South) and ‘domestic’ (in the Global North) and yet too often that is the way programming and research is carried out. This carving up often results in critical gaps and the tensions over scant resources. This panel aims to highlight and interrogate some of the ways in which ‘exchange’ can become a working principle for critique, advocacy and research across a wide range of issues of significance to addressing key issues in the lives of girls and young women: media and technology, reproductive health, leadership.


The Tanzania Girl’s Puberty Book Project: A model for promoting girl’s agency
Marni Sommer, School of Pubic Health, Columbia University

The onset of puberty, and specifically menstruation, is an opportune moment for reaching girls as they transition into adolescence and young womanhood. Yet the education and reproductive health communities have tended to overlook the onset of menstruation and early puberty in policy and practice. A girl’s puberty book was developed and published in Tanzania with the intention of complementing a larger national push towards assuring girls’ healthy transitions to young adulthood and closing the gender gap in schooling. It provides a model for encouraging agency and independence through its age appropriate content that is designed to empower and educate girls about their changing bodies and about managing their menses successfully in girl unfriendly school environments.

Reflexivity as a critical tool in community based approaches to work with girls
Tatiana Fraser, Executive Director, Girls’ Action Foundation, Montreal and Stephanie Garrow, Independent Consultant; Relebohile Moletsane, University of KwaZulu-Natal

This presentation takes the form of a dialogue with 3 girlhood activists who themselves work across several sectors (NGO, policy and NGO, and academic and NGO), and at the same time represent different sectors (NGO, policy, academic) and different cultural contexts in the Global North and Global South. The common thread is reflexivity. How do different models of reflexivity (e.g., individual self-study, feminist collective, participatory visual methodologies) contribute to the overall agenda of working with girls? How does this work contribute to deepening an understanding of the links between the lives of girls and women, and what are some of the lessons learned to apply to enriching community-university partnerships with girls?

Live Visual Mapping: A participatory arts-based approach for transforming ideas and concepts into art in a group setting
Pamela Teitelbaum & Jennifer Thompson, doctoral students, McGill University; Stephanie Garrow, Independent Consultant, April Mandrona, doctoral student, Concordia University

Live Visual Mapping is a participatory training technique that uses artists and their tools to visually capture ideas and concepts from a conversation of small or large groups during an educational training session, or a workshop into “visual knowledge builders” (Hyerle, 2009). Building on concept mapping which uses a more systematic approach for moving towards knowledge production, live visual mapping seeks to map concepts artistically and organically, as the conversation unfolds. We will present the advantages and disadvantages of using this type of visual participatory training technique, reflecting on the development and design of this methodology as well as our implementation of it and the resulting artistic creation.


Chair and Discussant:    Claudia Mitchell, McGill University

The Girlhood Exchange – Monday November 1st, 2010
— A dialogue between practitioners and researchers of girlhood — 

Hosted by McGill University, Participatory Cultures Lab and the Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE) and
Girls Action Foundation/Fondation filles d’action

Location : 3715 Peel Street, Montreal, QC, Room 200

Girls and Young Women – The Girlhood Context

We are all working in the « girlhood » field. We are researchers, teachers, practitioners and policy makers. We share one thing in common : we believe in girls and their ability to be at the forefront of creating a better world. We believe that girls and young women have a lot to say about social change if they are given the tools, frameworks, space and encouragement to do so.

However, we also know that despite advances, many girls and young women still face pressures that limit their potential. Particularly those girls who have lived the experience of marginalization. We know that girls’ lives are affected by poverty, racism and violence. They are further complicated by stress, media messages, pressure to be sexy, and challenges related to sexual and mental health. The context for girls is multi-layered and thus, the dialogue and responses must also come from many different perspectives and places.

Why the Girlhood Exchange?

Co-hosted by McGill University and the Girls Action Foundation/Fondation filles d’action, the Girlhood Exchange is a half-day forum that aims to bring a diverse group of girlhood supporters together from different sectors and perspectives, in an effort to convene both people, programs and organizations, and share their ideas, research and practices. Given the complexity of the context facing young women today, we would like to engage a cross-sectoral web of partners in efforts to evaluate and reflect on the impact we are having.

We imagine that hosting such a dialogue is a powerful way to stimulate new solutions and expand the impact of our collective « girlhood » lobbying and influence-making. The GE forum hopes to be a first step towards formalising relationships between practitioners and academics so they can further each others’ platforms for change with new ideas, strategies and joint initiatives.

Through a panel dialogue and collaborative debriefing, the Girlhood Exchange will shine light on both current research trends in the girlhood field, as well as highlight innovative programs and practices on the ground. These exchanges will underscore key issues, innovations and responses, touch on how well they are all working and where there may be gaps and discuss effective methods for evaluating their overall impact and influence in the field.

Our guiding questions for this exchange include the following :

  1. What are the key questions and themes guiding our research and practice work with girls and young women?
  2. In which areas do we feel we are making progress? Where do we need to put more energy? Find more clarity?
  3. Which evaluation or reflection methods facilitate our ability to document and learn more about where we are having the most influence? What methods or processes help us highilght what is working and where we need to pay more attention?
  4. What types of relationships, networks, joint initiatives could best faciliatete increased collaboration between the research/policy arena and the girlhood practitioners in the non for profit sector?


12 :00-1 :00 Arrival and Informal ExchangeCoffee, tea and muffins Time and space for all participants to mingle informallyMind Map from pre-work is projected on the wall
1 :00-1 :15 Introductions and Icebreakers Around each of the small tables, each participant to stand up, give name and affiliation and respond to a critical question (Nisha may have some good ideas for this one…)
1 :15 -1 :30 Report back from Small circles Lead volunteer from each table presents back their participants and 1-2 key themes that emerged from the critical question (again, Nisha will have ideas for keeping this short and powerful)
1 :30-2 :30 Panel Presentations4 speakers présent for approximately 7-10 minutes each Live mind mapping being carried out on screen or flipchart to capture main ideas of the presentations (depends if we feel comfortable with a mind mapping software by then)
2 :30-2 :45 Questions and Clarifications – brief session Limited to 15 minutes of brief questions focused around the content and possible need for clarification on the presentations.
2 :45-3 :45 Mind Mapping – pre and post Part one :Prior to symposium participants are asked to consider the following questions and enter their initial thoughts into either a google.doc or facebook page.1.     Name the research or practice area that you feel is making significant contribution to the lives of girls and young women? Where is there lots of possibility and energy?2.     Name the research and/or practice area that proves more challenging? Why so?

Responses from the pre-symposium questions will be prepared into a mind map that is projected and briefly presented to all participants   (10 minutes) – maybe this piece should come BEFORE the panel présentation?? Thoughts?

Part two :Nisha uses theatre-based techniques to break people into small groups of 6-8 people (approx. 5-6 groups).

Based on the pre-symposium and panel discussion mind maps, each group has a task to prepare.

1)   Design and present an innovative research/ practice/ policy initiative that will have signficant influence on the girlhood arena and the quality of life for girls and women.

Who would be involved? How would you work together? How will you know if your intiative is successful?

Consider the types of relationships, networks, joint initiatives that could best facilitate increased collaboration between the research/policy arena and the girlhood practitioners in the non for profit sector?

3 :45-4 :25 Girlhood Networking Initiatives : Presenting Back Each group has 7 minutes to present back their concept/initiative to the larger group
4 :25-4 :30 Closing Comments and Thank Yous  
4 :30-6 :30 Jackie Kirk Memorial Issue of Girlhood Studies – launch and cocktail Public Address by Dr. Marni Sommer
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