Girls Group Mentoring Toolkit

This Girls Group Mentoring Toolkit provides the tools, resources and support to create, implement, deliver and evaluate a quality group mentoring program for girls, ages 9-13, in your community. The Toolkit is intended to be used in a range of communities, and can be adapted to the unique values, needs, strengths and challenges that each community encompasses.

Program Population

An Intersectional Approach

“Using intersectional feminist frameworks, social categories such as race, class, and gender—among others—operate relationally; these categories do not stand on their own, but rather gain meaning and power by reinforcing and referencing each other.”

- CRIAW (2009)

The term “intersectionality” comes from a metaphor coined by theorist Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw (1989) to explain how race and gender oppression can interact:

"Consider an analogy to traffic in an intersection, coming and going in all four directions. Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars traveling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them. "

Crenshaw goes on to explain that if a women is harmed from being in an intersection, either sex discrimination, race discrimination, or both, could be the cause of her injury (Crenshaw, 1989). It’s not always possible to determine what caused the harm. In the same way, it is impossible to separate the ways that conflicting and interacting forms of oppression overlap in the girls’ lives. Each girl’s experience in the mentoring process is unique, as are her needs, strengths, resiliencies and challenges. It is critical for mentors to understand this.

It is important to apply an intersectional approach when talking about young girls in Canada. An intersectional approach highlights the simultaneous effects of factors such as race, class, ethnicity, status in society, sexuality, religion, age and ability on an individual's life.

Community practitioners must be aware of these intersecting forms of oppression and adapt their approach accordingly. To ensure that barriers are not created within the program, leaders should recognize that activities and discussions will have different meanings for different girls. For instance, a discussion around what it means to be a community leader, the implications of mentoring or the challenges of being a girl may have different interpretations and carry with it different restraints for girls from different communities and circumstances.

Many marginalized groups do not see themselves reflected in the media or in the world around them, so we must ensure their needs and identities are not overlooked in a girls group or oversimplified by dominant assumptions. As a group facilitator, program coordinator or mentor, self-awareness is one important way of addressing intersectionality. Self-disclosure and personal stories which illustrate the resolution of your own identity can be valuable and empowering for program participants. It is also critical to have an understanding of your own power and privilege within systems (Clarke, 2011). Discussion and questioning of stereotypes can be used within the group mentoring context to evaluate the differences among girls and help them discover and celebrate their uniqueness. Girls should be encouraged to take part in activities that develop their talents, passions and strengths.

Many marginalized groups do not see themselves reflected in the media or in the world around them, so we must ensure their needs and identities are not overlooked in a girls group or oversimplified by dominant assumptions. As a group facilitator, program coordinator or mentor, it is also critical to have an understanding of your own power and privilege within systems (Clarke, 2011). Discussion and questioning of stereotypes can be used within the group mentoring context to evaluate the differences among girls and help them discover and celebrate their uniqueness. Girls should be encouraged to take part in activities that develop their talents, passions and strengths.

 


Contact: mentoringgirls(at)canadianwomen.org