Our unique approach, applied to both the Girls Action model and the work of Girls Action, is based upon five overarching principles.
Popular education is a model that begins with an individual's personal experience and moves towards collective action. Contrary to traditional hierarchal education where experts hold the knowledge, this model is grounded in the belief that everyone is an expert, and argues that learning is not a top-down process. In validating experiential knowledge, popular education actively engages and empowers the individual in moving towards collective change. The Girls Action approach favours grassroots and critical educational approaches designed to recognize girls' knowledge and invites girls to be experts in their own lives.
An integrated feminist analysis recognizes and takes into account the multiple and intersecting impacts of policies and practices on different groups of women because of their race, class, ability, sexuality, gender identity, religion, culture, refugee or immigrant status, or other status. This framework recognizes that girls' and women's experiences of life occur in multiple and compounding spheres. Employing this analysis from a self-reflexive position, the Girls Action approach envisions building solidarities with communities and young women. Only by recognizing the differing locations and varying histories of individuals can we begin to build relationships and mobilize for social change together.
We believe that individual and/or collective social action can lead to social change, which has the potential to create a socially just world. Our approach to social justice is context-specific: it develops and advocates for alternatives grounded in young women's realities. In working towards social justice, the Girls Action approach promotes transformative change directed towards altering existing social structures and frameworks. Social action and change are achieved through the sharing of similar and diverse experiences, demystifying issues through education, encouraging and supporting action-oriented living strategies and critical thinking skills.
Working from a positive-oriented lens that emphasizes the assets and capacities of girls' own realities and experiences, the Girls Action approach builds on girls' strengths and community resources. As a starting point for actions, with and for girls, girls are not positioned as passive recipients. Rather, they are encouraged to develop their own knowledge as a political process leading to collective action in the community. This asset-based approach embraces a social, political and economical reflexivity and a critical perspective while acknowledging that girls face certain structural barriers not limited to institutionalized racism, poverty and homophobia, and other forms of structural and personal violence.
The Girls Action approach is continuously shaped by young women's input and feedback. A fluid spiral of learning, reflecting, researching, doing and evaluating informs this work on both organizational and programming levels. We are committed to remaining adaptable and relevant to the changing realities of girls' and young women's lives.