The challenges faced by young women growing up has received increased attention by news media and academic research in recent years. The 2016 report ‘The State of Girls Rights in the UK’ by children’s development organisation Plan UK found that ‘a girls’ location is critical’ across many different aspects of her life including her opportunities and her access to resources. Girls in the North East of England are among the most disadvantaged in the country based on life expectancy, child poverty, reproductive health and educational outcomes.
But how to understand the constraints caused by social inequality without making similarly restrictive assumptions about the lived experiences of girls?
A pessimistic and ominous tone pervades much reporting, with girls are often represented as either helpless innocents or brainless consumers.
Rather than take a problem-centred approach and pre-defining which issues are most important or troubling, Girl-Kind North East takes a different approach.
It starts with a question:
What are the challenges and opportunities of growing up as a girl in the North East?
Working with two groups of Year 10 girls from Sacred Heart High School in Newcastle and St Wilfrid’s Roman Catholic College in South Shields, Girl-Kind planned and ran a series of to find out from girls in the North-East, what they thought was important and to highlight the diversity of their experiences.
The girls’ answers were the starting point of this project, turning their thoughts and ideas into creative interventions for the UN International Day of the Girl Celebration.
On the 11th October 2017, we took over classrooms, a lecture theatre and a huge foyer at Northumbria University for this celebration, and showcased what the girls had been doing and making to parents, friends and the public.
Girl-Kind will run again in 2018 working with our original two schools plus a further two in Whitley Bay and North Shields. We are also delighted to have our first partner, poet and community worker Dianne Casey, who will be running the Girl-Kind programme in schools in Middlesbrough. Our intention is to run the Girl-Kind programme annually and to continue to grow the project in the North East region and beyond.
 Russell, Alsop, Bradshaw, Clisby and Smith (2016) 'The State of Girls' Rights in the UK', Plan International UK, https://plan-uk.org/file/plan-international-ukthe-state-of-girls-rights-in-the-uk-2016pdf/download?token=upKuLdiO (Accessed 03/07/18).