Empowering girls and young women in Nova Scotia

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On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, Scott Neigh speaks with Susan Brigham and Cassandra McDonald. They are involved in organizing the Girls 2017 Conference, which will be happening in early March at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Being a girl or a young woman in North America today isn't easy. Exactly how that plays out depends a lot on who you are, of course -- are you a trans girl, are you a Black girl, are you a girl living in poverty, and so on -- but it includes facing the possibility of a lot of different kinds of violence; it includes intense pressures to act in certain ways and not others; it includes being targeted with a lot of hate and a lot of shaming directed at your body; and it includes having a lot of the great things that you and other girls and young women like you do in schools and communities across the country ignored, erased, devalued, or sometimes even ridiculed.

A lot of different feminists have a lot of different answers for how to respond to all of that, with the more to-the-root end of the spectrum involving collective efforts to push for transformative change in the direction of gender justice, the end of white supremacy and settler colonialism, and a whole lot of other important stuff. On the path to those larger victories that we so badly need, though, there are a lot of questions about what we should be doing right now. And one of those questions is, perhaps, what can be done to mobilize the resources that exist in important institutions like universities in ways that support and empower girls and young women, both as individuals and in their efforts to work together to make their communities more just places?

Brigham and McDonald have one possible answer to that question. Brigham is a professor in the faculty of education at Mount Saint Vincent, while McDonald is a graduate student there. Both are involved in the university's Alexa McDonough Institute for Women, Gender, and Social Justice, which is putting on the Girls 2017 Conference. The conference will bring somewhere between 200 and 300 girls and young women from around Nova Scotia to talk about everything from self-esteem to getting involved in politics, from missing and murdered Indigenous women to non-traditional careers, from activism 101 to social media, from sexuality to learning how to tell your own story.

Brigham and McDonald speak with me about the challenges faced by girls and young women today, about the history and organizing of the annual Girls Conference, and about the exciting things that will be happening at Girls 2017.

To learn more about the Girls 2017 Conference, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show check out its website here. You can also follow us on FaceBook or Twitter, or contact [email protected] to join our weekly email update list.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Hamilton (formerly Sudbury), Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

The image that was modified for use in this post is the logo of the Girls 2017 Conference.

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