Activism networks, defined here as virtual or in-person communities devoted to social change, are conceived of as empowering and productive spaces for collaboration and knowledge-sharing. Participation in activism networks is characterized by social categories including gender, age, location, sexuality, race, and ability (Gordon 2008). The power of girls’ agency and their position as political actors is being recognized increasingly (Driscoll 2008). With the advent of digital technology that enables communication across geographic divides, there has been a growing emergence of activism networks led by, for, and with girls and young women (Burns and Easton 2016) for whom participation in activism networks can multiply and mobilize their collective influence. They can also be empowering sites of decolonization and resistance to hegemonic and oppressive norms. Networked activities may include organizing for policy change, writing or creating art to reflect lived experiences, or raising awareness and/or funds to support social causes. They can be initiated by girls or by adults for or with girls. Problematic practices can characterize initiatives that use or promote such activism, including tokenism, appropriation, exclusion, and Eurocentrism (Bent 2016; Switzer et al. 2016), and further research into the influence of the diverse communities embodied by these activism networks has been called for (Fraser et al. 2016). For this special issue of Girlhood Studies, we invite articles that use a range of methodological approaches to analyze activism networks led by, for, and with girls and young women. The terms girls and young women are inclusive of all self-identifying girls and young women including non-binary, femme, two spirit, and gender non-conforming young people. Articles may include empirical research, case studies, autoethnographic experiences, artistic representations, or may be about theoretical or conceptual frameworks. Along with conventional articles and visual essays, alternative contributions such as a very short screenplay or piece of fiction, poetry, or lyrics will be considered, as will material produced by girls and young women.
Articles are invited to respond to questions such as:
- How are activism networks led by, for, or with girls and young women experienced by participants?
- How is participation in girl-led activism networks enabled or constrained by social norms and expectations related to gender, race, ethnicity, language, religion, ability, location, age, and sexuality?
- What kind of political change is achievable through activism networks that focus on girls and young women?
- How can activism networks that focus on girls and young women expand participants’ social capital?
- What power dynamics are embodied in transnational activism networks led by, for, or with girls and young women?
- What does it mean for a network to be girl-led?
- How do digital technologies enhance or undermine the effectiveness of girl-focused activism networks?
- What can leadership, governance, and organization look like in girl-directed or girl-led activism networks?
- What are some of the risks regarding the appropriation or tokenization of girls’ voices through activism networks?
- How is gender manifested in youth networks involving young people who identify as girls or young women, as well as boys or young men and/or non-binary, femme, two spirit, and gender non-conforming young people?
- Do networks enable stronger mobilization of girls and young women against hegemonic and oppressive forces such as patriarchy, colonialism, and capitalism? Do they ever reproduce these structures?
- How can girls’ and young women’s activism networks be supported and/or constrained by funding and evaluation frameworks?
- How do girls and young women mobilize strategic partnerships with adult-led organizations to influence policy change?
Guest Editors: This special issue will be guest edited by Catherine Vanner and Anuradha Dugal. Please direct inquiries to Catherine Vanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catherine Vanner is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. She has engaged in activism networks led by, for, and with girls and young people from different perspectives—as a participant, facilitator, organizer, and researcher. Her research uses qualitative participatory methods to examine the relationship between education and gender-based violence in different countries including Canada and Kenya. She has a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Ottawa and has worked as an Education Advisor at Plan International Canada and the Canadian International Development Agency (now Global Affairs Canada).
Anuradha Dugal is currently Director of Community Initiatives at Canadian Women’s Foundation, a national leader in the movement for gender equality. Through funding, research, advocacy, and knowledge sharing for, with, and among community-based organizations, it empowers women and girls to move out of violence, out of poverty, and into confidence and leadership. She is responsible for national strategies related to women and girls that focus on policy to bring about systemic change. Previously, Anuradha worked in youth violence prevention and on the World March of Women, a transnational grassroots initiative of the Federation des femmes du Quebec. Anuradha sits on Minister Monsef’s Advisory Council on Gender-based Violence and is a member of the Conseil des Montrealaises.
Please direct inquiries to Catherine Vanner at email@example.com. Abstracts are due by 15 June 2019 and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Full manuscripts are due by 15 November 2019.
Authors should provide a cover page giving brief biographical details (up to 100 words), institutional affiliation(s) and full contact information, including an email address. Articles may be no longer than 6,500 words including the abstract (up to 150 words), keywords (6 to 8 in alphabetical order), notes, captions and tables, acknowledgements (if any), biographical details (taken from the cover page), and references. Images in a text count for 200 words each. Girlhood Studies, following Berghahn’s preferred house style, uses a modified Chicago Style.
Please refer to the Style Guide on the website: www.berghahnjournals.com/girlhood-studies If images are used, authors are expected to secure the copyright themselves.
Bent, Emily. 2016. “Making it Up: Intergenerational Activism and the Ethics of Empowering Girls.” Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 9 (3): 105–121. doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.3167/ghs.2016.090308
Burns, Vicki, and Asia, A. Easton. 2016. “#GirlsFightBack: How Girls are Using Social Network Sites and Online Communities to Combat Sexism.” In The Young are Making this World: Essays on the Power of Youth Culture, ed. Yuya Kuichi and Francisca A. Villarruel, 20–45. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.
Driscoll, Catherine. 2008. “Girls Today: Girls, Girl Culture and Girl Studies.” Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 1 (1): 13–32. doi: 10.3167/ghs.2008.010103
Fraser, Tatiana, Nisha Sajnani, Alyssa Louw, and Stephanie Austin. 2016. “Girls Action Network: Reflecting on Systems Change through the Politics of Place.” In Girlhood and the Politics of Place, ed. Claudia Mitchell and Carrie Rentschler, 105–121. New York: Berghahn Books.
Gordon, Hava Rachel. 2008. “Gendered Paths to Teenage Political Participation: Parental Power, Civic Mobility, and Youth Activism.” Gender and Society 22 (1): 31–55. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0891243207311046
Switzer, Heather, Emily Bent, and Crystal Leigh Endsley. 2016. “Precarious Politics and Girl Effects: Exploring the Limits of the Girl Gone Global.” Feminist Formations 28 (1): 33–59. doi: https://doi.org/10.1353/ff.2016.0014