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The XXI century will be a сentury either of total all-embracing crisis or of moral and spiritual healing that will reinvigorate humankind. It is my conviction that all of us - all reasonable political leaders, all spiritual and ideological movements, all  faiths - must help in this transition to a triumph of humanism and justice, in making the XXI century a century of a new human renaissance.

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11 April 2017

International Conference “Girlhood in Turbulent Times: Gender Equality as a Cultural Norm and a Social Practice”, 7 April 2017


The current generation of teenage and adolescent girls is extremely diverse and defies understanding by adults. Russia is not unique in this respect – anxiety, or even sometimes moral panic, along with a host of other social problems accompanying girls as they grow up, are typical of all modern societies. Research of modern practices and images of girlhood is clearly needed, both in a country-specific context and through comparative international studies.

Although we have an established tradition of teenage and youth subculture studies, young and teenage girls have long been invisible, with no dedicated research on the subject. Therefore, the term Girlhood Studies is in itself still a kind of an intellectual challenge.

In fact, girlhood is a critical period for identity formation and development of a woman, spanning approximately twelve years (from six to eighteen). Gradually, an interdisciplinary research area, Girlhood Studies, is taking shape, combining both research and activism. This research widely employs the methods used in feminist and gender studies and providing for active involvement of girls themselves.

The discourse of Girlhood Studies enhances the theoretical vision developed in gender studies and taps into entire strata of social data that need thorough analysis.

In Russia, the launch of Girlhood Studies and the first discussion of Girlhood Studies agenda and prospects took place at the Gorbachev Foundation in December 2012. This discussion triggered the researchers’ dialogues about “Girlhood in Turbulent Times”, initiated by The Raisa Maximovna Club (The Gorbachev Foundation),The Journal of Social Policy Studies, The Heinrich Böll Foundation, and the international journal Girlhood Studies: an Interdisciplinary Journal. As part of this project, a special, themed issue of Girlhood Studies: an Interdisciplinary Journal was published – Girlhood Studies in Post-Socialist TimesThe launch took place as part of a Round Table Discussion hosted by the National Research University – Higher School of Economics (Moscow).

The International Conference “Girlhood in Turbulent Times: Gender Equality as a Cultural Norm and a Social Practice” which took place on April 7, 2017 brought together researchers and activists  from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Sweden, and South Africa.

Speakers offered a wide variety of perspectives and insights  showing that modern Girlhood Studies have formed an intellectual activist space which is becoming increasingly important today and is directly linked with actions and decisions that will shape our future. This stimulates further dialogue between researchers and activists and a wider, public discussion.

The conference was moderated by Olga Zdravomyslova (The Gorbachev Foundation), Elena Smirnova-Yarskaya (The Journal of Social Policy Studies), and Irina Kosterina (The Heinrich Böll Foundation).

The transcript and video recording of the conference will be made available on the Gorbachev Foundation’s website.




7 April 2017
Girlhood in times of change: Gender Equality as a Cultural Norm and a Social Practice
International Conference
Co-organisers: The Raisa Maximovna Club (The Gorbachev Foundation),
The Heinrich Böll Foundation,
The Journal of Social Policy Studies
Session 1. Towards multinational dialogue on gender equality and well-being of girls and young women in the modern world
 Moderator: Elena Smirnova-Yarskaya, The Journal of Social Policy Studies
Olga Zdravomyslova, the Gorbachev Foundation
Circles within Circles: Girl-led transnational dialogues to combat sexual violence
Сlaudia Mitchell, McGill University (Canada)
Girls as warriors: Gender inequality in turbulent times in South Africa
Naydene de Lange, Summerstrand Campus South,Nelson Mandela University, (Port Elizabeth, South Africa).
Success strategies for girls and young women: The mass media as a space for public debate
Nadezda Azhgikhina, Moscow State University, European Federation of Journalists
Doing gender studies across regimes of oppression: challenges and openings
(Sundsvall, Sweden)
Session 2. Growing up with gender (in)equality: Cultural norms, girl empowerment practices
Moderator: Olga Zdravomyslova
Irina Kosterina, The Heinrich Böll Foundation
Is gender equality an explicit issue in Swedish high schools? Results from a photovoice study with girls in a vocational program
Katja Gillander Gådin, Mid Sweden University (Sundsvall, Sweden)
Growing up as intense mother's daughter: The "best" schools of the big cities
Olga Isupova, the National Research University – Higher School of Economics (Moscow)
40 prohibitions for a girl
Saltanat Boronbayeva, feminist activist, Osh (Kyrgyzstan)
Social role of the Girl Development project in the Chechen Republic
Razet Grimsoltanova, social worker (Grozny, the Chechen Republic)
The dangers of a singular story about Nordic Girlhood. A cross-generational dialogue between research and experience
Arbresha Rexhepi Coordinator at Fryshuset (Gothenburg, Sweden)Bodil Formark, FlickForsk! Nordic Network for Girlhood Studies, Umeå University, (Umeå, Sweden)
Session 3. Growing up with gender (in)equality: Girlsidentity development
Moderator: Irina Kosterina
Elena Smirnova-Yarskaya
Gender (in)equality in the preschool: hidden curriculum and girls' identity
Olga Savinskaya, the National Research University – Higher School of Economics (Moscow)
Journey to adulthood: Body experiences of teenage and older girls
Yelena Onegina, the National Research University – Higher School of Economics (St Petersburg)
Appreciating and obeying: School literature curriculum and gender socialisation
Lyubov Borusyak, the National Research University – Higher School of Economics (Moscow)

Girls at school and university: Perceptions of gender relations and gender equality
Yelena Zvereva, the National Research University – Higher School of Economics (Moscow)
Identity crisis and girlhood: Gender stereotypes of emotional reactions and gender equality in times of change
Olga Simonova, the National Research University – Higher School of Economics (Moscow)