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Our History

GIF was created in August 1994. It was formed by a group of girls and women in Duluth, Minnesota in response to the need to involve girls in the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, and the accompanying Non-Governmental Organizations Forum in Huairou, China. It grew out of the experiences of the girls and women involved in the creation of New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams, an international magazine written by and for girls ages 8-14.

For its first project, GIF sent 13 girls ages 10-17 to the UN Conference and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Forum in China in August and September of 1995. The girls were from five states including Minnesota, and were accompanied by eight adults. This project was extremely successful at involving girls and having these girls educate the adult participants and observers. The girls became included in every aspect of the conference: joining the Platform for Action (the official document of the conference) Working Groups, distributing 2500 copies of “Listen to Girls: A Girls Agenda for the UN Conference on Women”, participating in special events such as a Girls Speak Out, speaking at official UN functions, and planning and performing in the closing ceremonies for the NGO forum.

For its second project, GIF involved girls in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women meeting in March 1998. The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is an ongoing subgroup of the United Nations that is made up of 40 UN members. The role of the CSW is to discuss policy as it affects women and girls. This body has been reviewing sections of the Beijing Platform for Action since the end of the UN Conference on Women, and, in 1998 reviewed the section of the platform that addresses the needs of the girl child.

For its third major project, GIF brought a delegation of girls to Seneca Falls, NY, in July of 1998 to participate in Celebrate 98, the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the first National Women’s’ Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY. This celebration was held from July 16-19, 1998. GIF brought fifteen girls from throughout the United States to participate in the celebration and to develop a “Girls Declaration of Sentiments,” a Bill of Rights for Girls, modeled after the original Declaration developed by suffragists in 1848.

GIF developed a process for selecting a diverse group of girls to attend the celebration, supported these girls as they gathered information on the concerns, issues, and desires of girls from their communities, states and regions, and prepared the girls to be able to speak for more than themselves and structure a process for the synthesis of information from these girls into one document.

The success of this project was two-fold: Through attendance at this important historical event, GIF helped girls experience a link to the early history of the women’s rights movement and see themselves as a part of this ongoing process. At the same time, GIF helped adult participants and observers of the 150th Anniversary Celebration experience girls as important participants in current and future decision- making on issues that affect girls and women.

At the closing ceremony of the celebration, the GIF girls presented their completed “Girls Declaration of Sentiments” to Nancy Rubin, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, who accepted the Girls Declaration on behalf of the U.S. government and pledged to share the document with both the Clinton administration and the United Nations.

Because girls are valuable for who they are now and for their role as future women, participants and sponsors of GIF believe girls have a crucial role to play in policy-making, and have much to contribute with their dreams, enthusiasm, and determination. We believe that in order for girls to improve their own lives and the lives of other girls, they must be aware of girls’ and women’s successes, issues, and challenges, and must be involved in creating solutions to the problems that affect girls and women.

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