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Celebrating a century of girlhood in East Anglia - just one of the events at this year’s Day of the Girl Norwich

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 October 2014

Sarah Godfrey, left, and Tori Cann at the UEA. Photo: Bill Smith

Sarah Godfrey, left, and Tori Cann at the UEA. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

A free film, depicting a century of girlhood in East Anglia, is just one of the celebrations taking place in Norwich to mark this year’s International Day of the Girl.

The footage from the East Anglian Film Archive shows snippets of life for girls in the region and dates as far back as 1896.

From napkin folding to girls football, it is a celebration of what it is like to be young and female and will be shown at Fusion in The Forum, Norwich from Monday (October 6).

Now in its third year, Day of the Girl Norwich was founded by University of East Anglia lecturers Sarah Godfrey and Tori Cann.

It aims to foster girl empowerment by engaging with both young women and men and opening up dialogues about the issues they face.

Events will take place throughout the week, with a girls safeguarding event on Wednesday at UEA, and a Girls’ School Symposium in The Curve at The Forum on Friday.

International Day of the Girl is on Saturday, October 11 and the Norwich celebrations will take place at The Forum from 9.30am until 5pm.

The event will feature a host of organisations including GirlGuiding, the eating disorders charity BEAT and the Norfolk Women and Girls Football League.

There will be stalls, children’s activities, arts and crafts, cafe conversations with UEA academics and an exhibition of work created by girls from local schools and groups.

Dr Godfrey and Dr Cann also run events and workshops throughout the year, working with all sections of the community to address girls rights - both locally and across the world.

“It’s about encouraging conversations,” said Dr Cann.

“It’s a serious subject, but a lot of what we do is through art and workshops. Day of the Girl Norwich encourages people to talk about issues in a celebratory way - a celebration of girlhood and girls, as well as acknowledging there are some pretty big issues out there.”

Wider problems include female genital mutilation, forced marriage and trafficking, but locally, girls talk about body image, eating disorders, self-harm and anxiety.

“Neither of us know what it is like to be a 14 or 15 year old girl now,” said Dr Godfrey.

“We try and let them set the agenda. We don’t want to be speaking for them. It opens up many more conversations between girls and boys and young people and adults.”

She said having the confidence to deal with social pressures was a big hurdle for many girls.

“It’s having the confidence to say ‘I am not sending naked pictures of myself to you’ or ‘you can not treat me like that’,” said Dr Godfrey.

“It impacts on the decisions girls make in school - where they often see subjects like science as boys subjects and some sports as boys sports. It’s about challenging that.”

Everyone - male and female, young and old, is invited to attend the celebrations in Norwich over the next week.

“We are connecting to the International Day of the Girl across the world,” said Dr Godfrey.

“People in places like America and Australia will be able to see what the girls in Norwich have been doing through our Twitter handle @girlsroar.”

For more information, visit www.dayofthegirlnorwich.org

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