Stories of Girls’ Resistance

The co-option of resistance:

NGO-isation and the pull to professionalisation

The co-option of resistance:

NGO-isation and the pull to professionalisation

As girls interact with the complex forces of money in the context of formalised structures and institutions, the pull towards professionalisation and the profound impacts of NGO-isation start to show up in a multitude of damaging ways.

At best, these institutions can serve to sweep girls along with their own agendas – often imported from elsewhere – in a tide of power and resources, of acronyms and impenetrable processes, and where the girl is all but erased. At worst, we see the emissaries of aid reinforcing – often by design – the very structures that marginalised girls in the first place.

You don’t need only the money, because money can help me in making progress but can also make me blind. However, it all depends on where the money comes from, what is the proposed agenda. I don’t agree on having an outsourced agenda that controls me and my work, I want to focus purely on the Palestinian agenda; demands, practices, and projects, to work in reality how I want not how the donors want. This is my case, and I get to choose what to do, and you can fund my work based on your faith in it. However, most of the funds coming in are being controlled by the donors; you end up serving the case from the donor’s perspective not yours. I have chosen not to accept any funds, thus the hosting sessions are not sponsored. I know that with donors, I can grow and reach further by attending more conferences and speak in the name of the Palestinian women, the hosting session, the “Tal3at” movement, and any other Palestinian movement. Money does help, but it will be in the cost of other things, and here I ask myself “what are my priorities?

Occupied Palestine

We were in a meeting with the donors, the United Nation, and they were asking us – tell us what you want from us. We were so angry and I’m saying – we don’t want your bags of food, even though we need food, but we need political actions…We are forgotten …Charity is so vertical – it goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal – it respects the other person.

Western Sahara

For many, many years our state’s coalition for choice has been white led and people of colour state, so I more get tired when it’s like – when it’s those unnecessary fighting for power of – I know exactly how to do this. Or – I know what to tell this community even though I’m not from that community. That stuff makes me exhausted.

United States of America

I’m no longer interested in the NGO, the non-governmental industrial complex. I don’t want to participate anymore in affirming that NGOs are actually a solution. No, they haven’t been a solution for me and they won’t be a solution for me in the future. What I’ve learned from NGOs is that idea of creating consensus and creating a collective dream, allows you to have different multiple ways of getting to the end result. If liberation looks different for all of us, liberation has many roads for all of us, and I don’t need to be the one telling you this is the right route for you.


We need to get back to the bread-and-butter issues and stop – because politics has become a career for people, you know; it’s a career, like in other countries, I suppose – but for us it was not about a career in politics. It was about changing people’s lives.

South Africa

Many INGOs are organising for girls to participate in their programmes, but they often fail to help girls politicise their activism.


In my experience in the region, girls are often infantilized. either you have them championed by NGOs, INGOs are sort of this poster girls, you know, the extraordinary outliers, or they’re sort of infantilized, right, so they come under larger women’s groups, they are seen as a beneficiary group. And I think it was really interesting because we were picking up what it was for them to be them outside of all of these things. And I think in the context, I think it’s really interesting because in South Asia, you have a few different ways girls are looked at either as very much as children, or they are elevated to the status of sort of adults, so to speak, in situations where it’s beneficial for someone else.