Girls for Gender Equity

Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) is a Brooklyn-based, inter-generational non-profit organization, through a black feminist lens, dedicated to strengthening local communities by creating opportunities for young women and girls to live self-determined lives. To achieve this goal, GGE practices a bio-psycho-social-cultural approach to tackling the many obstacles young women and girls face such as sexism, racial inequality, homophobia, transphobia, and sexual harassment.[1]

Girls for Gender Equity
Founded2000 Edit this on Wikidata
FounderJoanne N. Smith
United States
Area served
United States

In the year 2000, GGE was founded by Joanne N. Smith, in response to a coalition of 80 low-income Central Brooklyn residents of color petitioning the Open Society Institute (OSI) to help in the fight to change the negative perceptions society has of women and girls. Inspired by their cause, Smith used the OSI fellowship to launch Girls for Gender Equity. Through educational, physical, and social programs, GGE aims to provide young women and girls with the tools to acknowledge their strengths, develop their skills, and ultimately live self-sufficient lives.[2]


Girls for Gender Equity’s after-school and youth organizing programs, along with cultural change work to provide the education, information, and resources necessary to help ensure the safety of youth in their schools and communities.

Sisters in StrengthEdit

Sisters in Strength (SIS) is a youth organizing program for social justice education, fifteen young women of color who are entering either the 10th or 11th grade, and takes place over the course of two years. They are usually around the age of 15-18 years old, who are survivors of gender based violence.[3] GGE’s vision, mission, and goals, as well as the individual needs and interests of each youth organizer shape Sisters In Strength’s programming. SIS confronts the several levels of individual and institutional discrimination that threaten the safety of girls and women through community organizing.[4]

In a civic engagement exercise, the Sisters in Strength youth organizers discussed the founding documents that shaped the United States values. In community with other black girls at the Black Girl Movement Conference, black girls imagined a new world that values black girls, a world where girls and all women of color would come together to create a world that they would want to live in and the Black Girl Bill of Rights is their founding document. On April 28, 2016, Joanne N. Smith, Founder and Executive Director of Girls for Gender Equity, presented the Black Girl Bill of Rights[5] to the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls at the first Caucus Symposium, “Barriers and Pathways to Success for Black Women and Girls” in the Member’s Room, Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building.

The Coalition for Gender Equity in SchoolsEdit

The Coalition for Gender Equity in Schools (CGES) mission is to end sexual harassment violence in schools by empowering young people to speak up and fight against negative normalized behavior such as offensive comments, LGBT bullying, and unwanted touches. GGE is the lead organizer of this alliance of students, teachers, parents, and other school community members that are passionate about changing the culture of schools and creating a sense of community that is rooted in mutual respect.[6]

Urban Leaders AcademyEdit

Urban Leaders Academy (ULA) is a holistic after-school program that is dedicated to advancing the values, ethics, determination, and leadership skills of junior high school students. There are currently two schools in Brooklyn that participate in GGE’s Urban Leaders Academy, J.H.S. 78 – Roy H. Mann Middle School and I.S. 14 – Shell Bank Middle School At each location, ULA’s mentors and staff serve as many as ninety students a day with the goal to cater to students’ unique needs and provide enrichment programs their schools are not able to offer. GGE'S youth development model consists of leadership programs, raising consciousness by encouraging youth to think critically about their place in society, exploring the concept of identity, setting career goals, community organizing for social justice, building awareness on the importance of nutrition, and practicing physical fitness.


Young Women’s InitiativeEdit

In 2015, Girls for Gender Equity played a role in helping the City Council of New York create the Young Women's Initiative as a counterpart to Young Men’s Initiative. Mayor Michael Bloomberg started this initiative in 2011, with the intention to offer equal opportunities to black and Latino men and boys in southeast Queens, northern Manhattan, the South Bronx and Staten Island’s North Shore.[7] In a press release, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called YWI "the first coalition in the United States to tackle the systemic gender-based inequality."[8]

In May 2016, the Young Women's Initiative released a comprehensive report consisting of a detailed agenda of over a hundred recommendations on issues that need to be addressed in order to improve the lives of young women and girls in New York City. These recommendations cover five key areas that have the greatest impact on an individuals’ quality of life; health, economic and workforce development, community support and opportunity, education, and anti-violence and criminal justice.[9]

GGE in the mediaEdit

Anita documentaryEdit

GGE's Sisters in Strength were featured in a segment of Oscar-winning director Freida Mock’s documentary Anita to shine light on their work raising awareness on gender issues.[10] The film tells the story of Anita Hill’s fight against sexual harassment in the workplace and her heroic testimony against U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Clarence Thomas.[11]


On October 22, 2015, Joanne Smith of Girls for Gender Equity discussed a new City Council initiative to help young women with a special panel, including Errol Louis, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Ana Oliveira from the New York Women’s Foundation, and Danielle Moss Lee from the YWCA of New York City.[12]

Melissa Harris-PerryEdit

  • On May 20, 2016, Melissa Harris-Perry was a guest on the 2016 Power Players week of Jeopardy! and played in support of Girls for Gender Equity.[9]
  • On November 24, 2012, GGE Youth Organizer, Emily Carpenter, of Girls Against Gender Equity, joined Melissa Harris-Perry to discuss what President Obama’s second term means to her, as young black woman.[13]
  • On August 19, 2012, Girls for Gender Equity’s Natasha Adams joined Melissa Harris-Perry to discuss the negative campaigning of the 2012 election cycle and the ways young people were reacting.[14]
  • On May 20, 2012, GGE's several of youth organizers joined Melissa Harris-Perry on a panel to discuss how the different forms of feminism.[15]

The Daily Show with Jon StewartEdit

On April 17, 2012, Joanne Smith was featured on a segment of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.[16]

Awards and honorsEdit

Mother Tongue MonologueEdit

On February 26, 2016, Joanne Smith was honored by Black Women's Blueprint at their annual Mother Tongue Monologue: A Praise Song for Black Girls Reclaiming Our Mothers Bones for her revolutionary work at GGE.[17]

Amtrak Pioneer AwardEdit

In 2016, Joanne Smith was one of the winners of The Amtrak Pioneer Award, that honors African Americans who’ve made positive contributions to Communities in Brooklyn.[18]

1804 Haitian-American Change MakerEdit

On March 21, 2015, Joanne Smith was honored by the Haitian Round Table 1804 as a Haitian American Changemaker for making influential changes in her community.[19]

Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction AwardEdit

On March 20, 2015, Girls for Gender Equity was awarded with a Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction award at Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch by NYC Council Members Jumaane D. Williams and Laurie A. Cumbo, in honor of her work in public service.[20]

New York’s New AbolitionistsEdit

On May 23, 2013, Joanne Smith was honored by becoming one of New York’s new abolitionists, for her support fighting against human trafficking.[21]

Grio AwardEdit

In 2013, GGE's Community Organizer Nefertiti Martin, and Youth Organizer Emily Carpenter were honored by being included on the 4th annual Grio Top 100 African American History Makers list for “embodying the best attributes of their generation: creativity, fearlessness, and a powerful belief that each individual can change the world. Nefertiti has practiced her activism as a member of a number of organizations, including FIERCE, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, In the Life Media, the Lesbian Cancer Initiative and Theatre Askew Youth Performance Experience, as well as Girls for Gender Equity.”[22]

The New York Women’s Foundation Neighborhood Leadership AwardEdit

On October 16, 2012 The New York Women’s Foundation honored Smith with a Neighborhood Leadership Award.[23]

The French-American Foundation Young Leaders ProgramEdit

In 2012, Smith was honored by The French American Foundation's Young Leaders Program for her work.[24]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Shatema Threadcraft (2014). "Intimate Injustice, Political Obligation, and the Dark Ghetto". Signs. The University of Chicago Press. 39 (3): 735–760. doi:10.1086/674382. JSTOR 10.1086/674382.
  2. ^ "Joanne N. Smith | New York Foundation". Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  3. ^ "Sisters in Strength – The Firecracker Foundation". Retrieved 2022-03-27.
  4. ^ Domini, John. "SISTERS FIGHT to End Harassment in Schools". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  5. ^ "Black Girls Movement Conference Launches At Columbia University". 2016-04-06. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  6. ^ "Girls for Gender Equity Helps Educators Reflect on Sexual Harassment in Schools | NESRI | National Economic & Social Rights Initiative". NESRI. 2011-08-15. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  7. ^ Ross Barkan (2015-01-30). "Bill de Blasio Will Bolster Michael Bloomberg's Young Men's Initiative". Observer. London. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  8. ^ Nisha Chittal (2014-01-08). "NYC Council to launch initiative targeted at young women of color". MSNBC. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  9. ^ a b Harris, Melissa (2016-05-19). "Melissa Harris-Perry - Playing Jeopardy for Girls for Gender Equity". Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  10. ^ "New Documentary Revisits Anita Hill's Testimony". Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  11. ^ "Anita Hill steps back into spotlight as subject of new documentary film". The Boston Globe. 2014-04-01. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  12. ^ "NY1 Online: Panel Talks New City Council Initiative to Help Young Women". 2015-10-22. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  13. ^ "Sasha and Malia Obama as role models for America's youth - Video on". 2012-11-24. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  14. ^ "How the American educational system effects young people - Video on". 2012-08-19. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  15. ^ "Is 2012 the year of the young woman? - Video on". 2012-05-20. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  16. ^ "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - The Women's Vote | Girls for Gender Equity". Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  17. ^ "Honorees". Mother Tongue Monologues. Retrieved 2016-06-03.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "Black History Month | Brooklyn Nets". Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  19. ^ "March 21st: Haitian Roundtable 1804 Haitian-American Change Makers & Ones to Watch « Haiti Cultural Exchange". 2015-02-17. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  20. ^ "Williams & Cumbo Co-Host Shirley Chisholm Women Of Distinction Celebration Honoring Six". 2015-03-24. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  21. ^ "End Modern Day Slavery - The New Abolitionist Movement". A Call To Men. 2013-05-07. Archived from the original on 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  22. ^ "10 Everyday Black Women Who Are Changing The World Around Them". Atlanta Black Star. 2013-10-22. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  23. ^ "Upcoming Events | 2012 Neighborhood Dinner | New York Women's Foundation". 2012-10-16. Archived from the original on 2016-06-18. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  24. ^ "Joanne Smith | French-American Foundation". Archived from the original on 2016-06-11. Retrieved 2016-06-03.

External linksEdit