in Seneca Falls
Declaration of Sentiments
On July 19, 1998 fifteen girls from GIF
presented the Girls' Declaration of sentiments at Seneca Falls on
the annivesary of the Womens' Declaration of Sentiments.
girls, ages 8-18, created a Girls' Declaration of Sentiments in
Seneca Falls, New York on July 16-19, 1998. The girls, hailing from
thirteen different states, were brought to Seneca Falls by Girls
International Forum, a non-profit organization affiliated with New
Moon Magazine for Girls.
after the original Declaration of Sentiments developed in Seneca
Falls 150 years ago by suffragists, the Girls' Declaration defines
an agenda for the Girls Movement, just as the Declaration of 1848
defined an agenda for the first wave of the Women's Movement. The
Girls' Declaration focuses on 8 areas of concern and proposed solutions.
Girls' Declaration was unveiled at the Closing Ceremony of Celebrate
'98, the sesquicentennial celebration of the First Women's Rights
Convention, and received a standing ovation. U.S. Ambassador to
the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Nancy Rubin, accepted
the Girls' Declaration on behalf of the U.S. government and pledged
to share the document with both the Clinton administration and the
When, in the course of human events, girls are denied the rights
and respect they are entitled to, it becomes necessary for girls
everywhere to take action to improve their everyday lives.
believe that all people--women, men, girls and boys--are created
equal. We all have certain rights as people, and it is up to all
of us to make sure that these rights are respected and protected.
When our society doesn’t recognize these rights, changes must
occur. Change should not be made without good reason, but the state
of our society compels us to work for change. The rights of girls
have not been respected. To gain this respect, we must speak out
to declare our independence and explain our reasons for doing so.
Facts: Girls have been denied equal access to some
sports, positions, and resources. The little attention and encouragement
girls receive is frustrating. Girls have been excluded from leadership
roles, decreasing their capacity to participate fully as athletes.
Girls need to speak out. Girls can create coalitions, push to be
included in all sports, or create their own teams. The adults in
girls’ lives should encourage them with persistent support.
Title IX should be more widely recognized, enforced, and expanded
in all communities.
Facts: Girls feel they must fit into an image the
media has created. When they don’t, they often lose their
self-esteem. This loss causes many girls to be more vulnerable to
peer pressure which can lead to substance abuse, eating disorders,
teenage sex, pregnancy, and other problems.
The media should promote the beauty of all girls regardless of size,
shape, or ethnicity. Girls should take the initiative to be healthier,
think positively about themselves, and look for the good things
in life. Girls can find support from people in similar situations,
mentors, and youth organizations. Girls must take action by forming
groups, writing letters, and protesting against the media’s
distorted images of girls.
Facts: Girls and women have the right to physically demanding or
mentally challenging jobs if they choose. They have the right to
earn 100 percent of what boys and men earn. Girls and women have
the right to a combination of family and career. They have the right
to be hired based on capabilities, not on appearance. Girls have
the right to work comfortably without fearing sexual harassment.
To accomplish these goals, girls must stand up for themselves. They
should help each other understand the problems they face. Girls
should stay positive and strong while fighting this peaceful battle
Violence and abuse occur everywhere in this nation, limiting girls’
independence to fully explore the world around them. Sexual harassment
and other kinds of abuse happen in schools and in some families,
lowering the self-esteem of the abused or the threatened
Girls and their communities should make sure that social services
and police are accessible and available, and that all people know
how to reach them. The federal government should create a national
toll-free hotline that includes teenagers who have experienced these
The educational system focuses on men. Not seeing women
in leadership positions in history books and in schools gives girls
the impression that women are not able to lead as well as men. In
school, many teachers and counselors fail to encourage girls to
take non-traditional classes such as high-level math and science
classes, weightlifting, auto mechanics, and others. When they do
take those classes, girls are often ridiculed for enrolling. Boys
are allowed to be outspoken in class, while girls are expected to
be quiet and self-controlled, leading girls to believe that what
they think or say does not matter.
Girls should communicate with teachers, counselors, parents, and
others about their educational rights. If this approach fails, girls
must write out their concerns and present them to higher authorities
such as principals, school boards, superintendents, or state departments
Many religions teach girls during childhood that only men
are meant to be ministers, priests, rabbis, and leaders of congregations.
Boys and men are able to participate more fully and are celebrated
more often in many religions.
Girls must challenge their religions and question the limits
on their participation. Girls must examine their own beliefs to
make sure that what they believe in is what they stand up for. Society
should not assume that God has a specific gender.
Most parents are overprotective of their daughters because
of problems like rape and kidnapping, but parents don’t object
to their sons staying out late. Parents often limit girls’
freedom, subconsciously using bribery as a blindfold. They often
give their daughters more clothes and money, disguising the truth
that they are limiting their daughters’ freedom.
Parents should consider setting curfews, allowance, and chores by
responsibility and age, instead of by gender. Girls should challenge
their parents and society to make their surroundings a safe place
Facts: Society generates stereotypes about girls
that categorize, suppress, pressure and make assumptions based on
girls’ past traditions. Examples of stereotypes that narrow
how girls define themselves include the assumptions that girls should
dress a certain way, look pretty, and be quiet, feminine, and pure.
Girls have the right to be considered physically equal to boys.
They have the right to be strong individuals and still be considered
Girls must define their behavior and appearance according
to their personal beliefs and preferences. Society must support
and encourage girls’ definitions of themselves.
In essence, girls look forward to respect, equality, good–paying
jobs, and full participation in sports. Our hopes and dreams for
the future are for girls and woman to succeed in society and to
accomplish the goals they set for themselves and for future generations.
We hold the hope that girls are fully accepted by society in the
behalf of Girls International Forum, we would like to give thanks
to our first foremothers: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony,
Sojourner Truth and Lucretia Mott. If today’s society would
encourage leadership in young girls and woman we will have a strong
Bagwell, 16; Andrea Baldwin, 9; Katie Baldwin,
11; Jamie Bernabo, 13; Martha Fernandez, 16;
Gaylene Fred, 14; Mariya Ho, 11; Morgan Kremers,
14; Melanie Mousseaux, 16; Alexia Paleologos,
8; Reshma Pattni, 14; Paloma Reyes, 16;
Gradolyn Talley, 13; Meredith Turner-Woolley, 13
Seneca Falls, New York
July 19, 1998