Montreal – 2010

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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