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North East girls in the spotlight: Girl-Kind event explores growing up as a girl in the region

Girls and women in the North East are being invited to take part in a unique project exploring what it means to be female growing up in the region.

The Girl-Kind North East project, which is being coordinated by Northumbria University and Newcastle University, aims to give girls a chance to celebrate their achievements, address their struggles and let people know what they’re thinking.

It is being held to coincide with UN International Day of the Girl – a global event held annually on 11 October, which raises awareness of the rights of the girl, and celebrate girls’ lives throughout the world.

As part of the Girl-Kind North East project, 40 girls from in and around Newcastle have been making films, painting placards and choreographing dances in preparation for a special North-East celebration, taking place at Northumbria University on 11 October. Friends, family, colleagues and students have been invited to watch the performance and hear what the girls involved have to say about growing up today.

Research shows that there is a stark geographic contrast between the life prospects of children growing up in Britain today. Those growing up in urban areas of the North of England face the greatest struggles in terms of life expectancy, poverty and educational outcomes.

Girls also face the additional burden of gender stereotyping, harassment, unwanted sexual touching, and pressures regarding physical appearance.

Members of the public can also get involved. There will be a memory booth collecting stories of growing up as a girl in the North East. The booth will be located on Northumberland Road of the Northumbria University campus on Saturday 7 October and Sunday 8 October, from 10am to 4 pm, and any woman over 18 can share their memories. 

The project has been co-organised by Dr Sarah Ralph of Northumbria University and Dr Sarah Winkler-Reid of Newcastle University, who both conduct research on girls’ lives and growing up in Britain. The project is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Dr Sarah Ralph, Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies, said: “Hearing about the struggles girls face daily has been sobering, we still have such a long way to go. But the girls are so insightful, articulate and full of creativity. We can’t wait for people to see and hear all the amazing things they have created to tell us about their lives.”

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