Youth Voice Journal (YVJ™) is an international, multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal that publishes theoretical contributions and empirical studies on international issues affecting young people. YVJ™ is published by RJ4All Publications and is ranked and indexed by Scopus, ORCID, Kudos, Criminal Justice Abstracts, EBSCO Information Services and ERIH PLUS.
This article was written for the Youth Voice Journal’s 2019 Special Issue ‘Youth Doing Politics’ It’s available here as a standalone article. You can also purchase the full special issue here.
This paper critically examines the interconnections between the civic activities of young women in the Greater Toronto Area and how they define and position themselves within leadership discourses. Drawing from data from a four-year community engaged research study, Engaging Girls, Changing Communities (EGCC), we explore
the questions: What is it like to engage young women with diverse identities in community activism? How do these young women understand the connections between their community engaged activities and leadership?
How do they define leadership? What can we learn from these young women for facilitating more equitable notions of leadership and governance within contexts of structural barriers that intersect with tradition, culture and stereotype to reproduce marginality and traditional leadership? The EGCC project included in-depth interviews with 52 young women between the ages of 15 and 24. Analyses of interview data indicate the diverse ways that the young women conceptualize leadership: as contextual and spatial; as power, rules and authority; and as resilience
and strength. The young women positioned themselves within contextual definitions of leadership and were ambivalent as to whether or not they themselves were leaders. While they positioned their mothers within the resilience and strength definition, and as someone “I look up to”, they did not see their mothers as leaders. Fathers, whom they associated with the definition of leadership as power, rules and authority, were the most named as leaders. Finally we explore the possibilities of these findings for facilitating more equitable notions of leadership
and governance for emerging civic advocates.