Girls are often portrayed in one of two ways – a passive victim who is in need of saving, or a heroine who stood up against all odds in a single act of defiance. This is reflected in media, storybooks, news, academia, and the cultural fabric that makes up many parts of the world. However, these narratives do not portray the truth about girls’ lives, their power, their resistance, or the role they play in creating social change.
Throughout these pages we have attempted to create a much more nuanced understanding of girls’ power and resistance, moving away from neat and clean categories and allowing space for truth to emerge, in all of its messiness, pain, joy, and contradiction. We do this by sharing the stories of girls’ lives, grounded in the undeniable truth of their lived experiences.
In reading their stories, we understand that to be a girl is to resist. They resist because their very existence is questioned and threatened. This resistance can take many forms, it can evolve, expand and contract over time. For some it is a quiet everyday resistance, and for others, it is through bold and loud actions. What might start as a seemingly quiet act of defiance can grow into a movement or a revolution.
The result of their resistance is woven throughout the fabric of global history; it is transforming the present and defining the future. For girls are, and always have been sparking, leading and participating in social change efforts. And yet, the stories that capture this power have been ignored, erased and pushed aside. Until now.
The 150 stories that guide this book, from over 90 countries across the world, start to shine a light on the truth about girls’ resistance and its role in creating social change throughout the ages. Girls are leaders, culture makers, and movement shapers. They are using their power and resistance to reimagine and create better worlds for themselves and us all. They are leading and embedded in the world’s most powerful justice struggles, working across generations with young and old alike, to shape destinies for their households, communities and nations
Our hope is this offering is the beginning and a way to unlock stories of girls’ resistance from every corner of the world. We hope it is an invitation for every girl, women and non-binary person to share their own story of resistance.
For every girl who has ever pushed back. To every girl who has said no. For every girl who has ever held her sister’s hand and said in quiet whispers or loud deceleration “we deserve more than this”. To every girl who has ever dared to imagine a life of safety, of dignity, of freedom. Your stories matter more than you know. Your stories are the seeds of another kind of world.
These stories show irrevocably that girls are born resisters . They are culture makers and movement shapers . Yet the truth of their resistance has been erased from history. Now, no more.
You have heard their stories… …What will you do next?