The Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom is a joint project of the Imago Dei Fund based in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Institute for Faith and Gender Empowerment based in Kisimu, Kenya. It launched in 2018 to bring a contemplative, systemic, and historic awareness to patriarchy as both a tradition and a problem. Our mission is to nurture a community of faith-inspired change agents putting “faith to work through love” to liberate the world from the deep roots of patriarchy. The primary curriculum of the Girl Child Long Walk project is an immersive nine-month reading journey created by Emily Nielsen Jones and Rev. Domnic Misolo.
Three cohorts have participated in the Girl Child Long Walk reading journey engaging hundreds of participants from over 17 countries. In 2021, after reflection and evaluation, we created a pilot Fellowship for a cohort of 12 faith-inspired change agents which was a resounding success. We are now sponsoring a new cohort in 2023-2024.
Fellows work closely with each other and our internal team as they explore the reading journey themselves; and each Fellow will support scheduled drop-in sessions of the reading journey as a co-facilitator. Fellows receive committed support from each other and the core Girl Child Long Walk team, while deepening individual work and practice through impact projects in their own organizations or communities.
The Girl Child Long Walk Fellowship is a supportive cohort of learning and practice for faith-inspired change agents working at the nexus of faith, gender, and social change. We co-create a space with Fellows where they can take the next step in their journey to untangling the contradictions at the intersection of faith and gender inequality. This is a leadership development opportunity for faith-inspired change agents who don’t typically have access to leadership opportunities.
Through this opportunity, Fellows have:
- Space to deepen their intellectual inquiry into the historic structures which underlie and perpetuate the patriarchal social norms which devalue girls’ human rights from the womb and make them vulnerable to systemic patterns of overwork, harmful traditions, abuse, neglect, and basic disrespect.
- Opportunity for contemplation to connect with their own souls, cultivate inner freedom to ask questions, sort through their own religious and cultural beliefs, and tap into and clarify what is the deepest essence of faith that can “move mountains” (in particular those fortified by religion).
- Peer learning with a small cohort of brave faith-inspired change agents from around the world working at the intersection of faith, gender equality, and community-led social change.
- Opportunities to refine strategic thinking and maximize the impact of a new or existing project.
Programmatically, the Fellowship provides sessions focused on spiritual reflection and project support. The main curriculum of the Fellowship’s spiritual sessions is the Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom reading journey, a deep dive into the origins of patriarchy as the world’s oldest oppression, and an invitation to walk the Exodus path to truly leave this social structure in the past and move towards a promised land where all can live in freedom. Fellows co-facilitate drop-in sessions of the reading journey and participate in conversations led by other active faith-inspired change agents.
On the project development front, each Fellow works on a new or existing impact project that addresses patriarchy; examples could include a youth leadership program, or a community outreach project addressing girls and women’s rights. During the Fellowship, Fellows receive group and individual support and coaching from Girl Child Long Walk Team Members and participate in conversations with faith-inspired change agents who have initiated, implemented, and managed projects and initiatives.
Fellows also support each other through facilitated small discussion groups. At the end of the Fellowship, Fellows present their projects and celebrate the end of the Fellowship and the continuation of their life journey as GCLW Fellows and community members.
Benefits for Fellows:
- Leadership development
- Deep contemplative learning about patriarchy and the role of faith in perpetuating inequality
- Networking opportunities
- Impact project support
- Engagement with the reading journey authors
- Access to a diversity of perspectives with people from the global south and global north
- Exploration of the connections across personal inner work, collective work, and systems change
- Support in telling her/his story as a faith-inspired change agent
- Increased visibility
- Opportunities to attend, design, and/or participate in monthly Courageous Conversations
- An honorarium of $5,000 that Fellows can use however they wish (to support themselves or a project of their choice). Please note that this honorarium is not a grant.
- Nine-month commitment of ~5 hours per week (readings, meetings, impact project development, etc.). All meetings are on Thursdays at 9:30 AM Eastern Time / 5:30 PM East African Time / 3:30 PM Central European Time.
- Fellows cohort 90-minute call twice a month (combination of training, reading journey facilitation assistance and impact project support)
- Co-facilitation of drop in reading journey session or if Fellows select to do so, facilitation of her or his own reading journey team. Please note that this is an additional monthly meeting.
- Faith inspiration for social change (all faith backgrounds welcome)
- Association with an organization, university, faith community or other network
- History of community engagement and leadership
- Proficiency in written and spoken English
- Intellectual curiosity and desire to dig deeper into the root causes of patriarchal social norms, traditions, belief structures, and oppression
- Access to a computer and the Internet (the Girl Child Long Walk project may provide some support in special cases)
- 12 people across global north and global south
- Women and men, all ages, and all faiths
Time commitment: 9 months, ~20 hours per month
February 2023: Announcement and launch of outreach for nominations
March 3rd: Nominations are due and application process opens up
April 14: Deadline for applications
June 2023: Selection of Fellows and mailing of acceptance and agreements
August 2023: First Fellows cohort convening and orientation
Sept-December 2023: Focus on spiritual journey and reflection with presentations by GCLW and IDF partners
Oct 2023: Fellows receive information regarding their project development process and work on identifying their project if it isn’t already identified
January–March 2024: Focus on project development and conversations with faith-inspired change agents regarding their experience with project development
April–May 2024: Presentation of impact projects and Fellows graduation and celebration