Rethinking space, participation and gender: unpacking barriers and opportunities for girls in the urban milieu

Nombuso Dlamini


Although the literature on youth civic engagement is copious, not much light has been shed on impeding and enabling factors of girls’ civic participation in urban settings. In this paper, we examine girls’ motivation for and spaces of community involvement in the Greater Toronto Area. Particularly, we highlight the drivers and patterns of girls’ civic engagement using the findings from a research study entitled [name of project 1]. The data illustrated that girls cited lack of opportunities and encouragement; disconnect to community members; cultural and/or religious barriers; gender biases; antipathy towards community; low self-esteem; and time as the reasons hindering community participation. Moreover, the data also pointed to the importance of family/adult support in nurturing girls’ leadership aspirations. Finally, we conclude this paper with discussions on the implications associated with girls’ civic participation which is characterized by an adult-informed paradigm. 



youth civic engagement, youth leadership, disadvantaged communities, youth studies, and female empowerment

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