Stories of Girls’ Resistance


From Fiji, Republic of the Marshall Island to Tonga, the Pacific series documents 6 stories of resistance across the region.

The Pacific Islands, a distinctive and diverse region, spread across the Pacific Ocean, are divided into three major ethnographic groupings – Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Excluding Australia and New Zealand, the region is home to 10.3 million people, with Papua New Guinea being the largest at 8 million. Pacific women and girls, in all our diversities, make up 50% of the population and are spearheading climate adaptations and mitigation strategies from the community to the international level; leading national response to disasters such as COVID-19; at the frontline of gender-based-violence service provision; and demanding an end to the state and faith’s control over our bodily autonomy, movement, and choices, amongst other things.

The Pacific has some of the strongest feminists in the world, with a movement that spans over 40 years of existence. Yet despite the gains instigated and led by the movement, the region is still hampered by a stronghold of patriarchal institutions and attitudes that permeates every facet of our daily lives – from our homes to places of learning, playing, worship, work, and national decision-making. With violence against women and girls being twice as high as that of the global average of 1 in 3 women; women in leadership being the lowest in the world; and women making up the largest number of workers in the informal economy, there is an urgent need to accelerate efforts by everyone towards gender equality efforts which puts women and girls in all their diversities at the centre of the efforts.

The stories in this section are six of the many stories of women and girls’ survival and resistance in the Pacific. These stories break the colonial lens that is often used when telling stories of people of colour; it shatters the male gaze; and equally importantly, it goes beyond the single narrative of an individual and explores their intersectionalities and the multitudes they contain.

What does it mean to be a 10-year-old from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, facing a climate crisis, and at the same time going through intense bullying by peers at school? Or to be an indigenous Fijian trans woman of faith with a disability, and also a human rights activist? Or to be a young Tongan woman with a strong sense of justice but be told by others that it is not her place to speak? How do you stand up to extended family members, as one Indo-Fijian woman did, and say “no!” when she felt she was “being married off”?

Every day, these women, and thousands of others resist in different ways across the Pacific. We honour their resistance, their lives, and their stories, and stand in solidarity with them, always.



The Pacific stories of resistance were curated by Shazia Usman and illustrated by Gregory Ravoi.