These are some recent headlines about girls around the world. When you start searching for stories about girls, you get a mix like this: stories about victimization, sexualization, and the exceptional girls who fight back.
There’s good reason for the headlines, because the numbers are just as troubling: 1 in 5 girls is said to be married before the age of 18; an estimated 15 million girls around the world between the ages of 15 and 19 have experienced forced sex; an estimated 130 million girls between the ages of 6 and 17 are out of school.
But we wanted to know what life looks like for girls, beyond the headlines. What do teenage girls dream about in a refugee camp? What does a 17-year-old worry about in Manila and in the Midwest? We wanted to hear girls’ stories from around the world in their own voices.
Most of the girls you will meet are in school; some help their parents with their jobs. None of the girls are parents or married themselves, but they live in a diverse range of circumstances: We hear from girls with divorced parents and girls who live with grandparents and several siblings; from girls living in big cities and a girl in a refugee camp; from girls who want to be dressmakers and teachers and scientists.
While the specifics of their circumstances vary, often girls wrote about the same types of things: their love and concern for their friends and their families; their big dreams (and their hope that they would not be underestimated); and of course, the universal and very specific angst and embarrassment of being a teenager in the world, trying to figure it all out.
Below, find all 10 installments: