Great Girls highlights the monuments, memorials, landscapes, and historic sites that reveal the unique history of girlhood around the world. Every site comes from Girl Museum's "Sites of Girlhood" project, an ongoing digital map to document girl history.
Today's episode focuses on Nigeria, where Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, and Akuomo Omeoga made history by becoming Nigeria’s first winter Olympic athletes. They qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, representing Nigeria in the 2-woman bobsled. Together, the girls became the first African team in bobsled and were the first Nigerians represented at the Winter Olympics.
In this episode, we’ll be discussing Iran, where Kimia Alizadeh became the first Iranian woman to win an Olympic medal, at the age of 18. Yet her biggest achievement wasn't winning a medal - it was standing up to a regime that sought to use her, and other female athletes, rather than give them the autonomy and recognition they deserved.
At the age of four, Arati accompanied her uncle to the Champatala Ghat for a bath, where she learned to swim. Noticing her interest in swimming, her father gained her admission to the Hatkhola Swimming Club. Within a year, Arati had won the gold in the 110-yard freestyle at the Shailendra Memorial Swimming Competition. She was just five years old.
Over the next ten years, she participated in several competitions, primarily competing in 100 meter freestyle, 100 meter breaststroke, and 200 meter breaststroke. But her crowning achievement came at the age of 19, when she became the first Asian woman to swim across the English Channel.
In this episode, we’ll be discussing Mount Everest, where Samina Baig made history by becoming the first Pakistani girl to summit its peak. Her story is one of how living in a gender equal society can empower girls to reach the greatest heights - literally and figuratively.
Today’s episode focuses on another Paralympian Great Girl - Qian Hongyan of Yun Nan Province in China. Born in 1996, Qian lost both her legs in a car accident at the age of four. Yet just nine years later, in 2009, at age 13, she won a gold and two silver medals at the Chinese National Paralympics Swimming Competition. Within a year, she had received a total of 4 gold and 5 silvers in similar games. In 2012, Qian received a bronze in Paralympic qualifiers, but it wasn’t enough to secure a spot on the team. Despite the setback, she continued training. At age 18, she received adult prosthetics. Her progress continues to be reported in national news, spreading abroad through viral posts on Facebook. In 2016, at age 19, Qian qualified and participated in the Rio Paralympics. She finished 9th overall in the 100-meter breast stroke.
Today’s episode focuses on someone that Girl Museum has long admired - Aisholpan Nurgaiv, the 13-year-old eagle huntress of Mongolia. In 2014, Aisholpan won her first competition, followed by additional wins in 2015 and 2016. Her accomplishments were first documented by Israeli photographer Asher Svidensky for BBC News; seeing the photographs, film director Otto Bell tracked her family down. In an interview with BBC, Otto stated that “on the very first day…[he] filmed one of the early scenes in the film, where the girl and her father seize a baby eaglet from its nest. It’s a dramatic moment with Aisholpan climbing down a cliff, her father holding a rope attached to her waist.”
Welcome to Season Two of Great Girls. This season, we are exploring seven girls who’ve achieved feats of physical strength and endurance, primarily through sports, and gone down into the halls of history.
Today, we’re in Aldridge - or, perhaps, Swansea - staring at a golden postbox. Did you know these golden postboxes are in memorial to a young female Olympian? Specifically, one of the stars of the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing.
Was Catherine a willing or unwilling participant in her affairs? The evidence points to somewhat willing - though whether a thirteen year old girl, under wardship and surrounded by young men, could truly be willing is up for debate. Here is her story, a tragic tale of youth gone wrong.
This episode discusses one of the most famous girls in recent history - Anne Frank, and the house she lived in during World War II. Today, the Secret Annex is part of the Anne Frank House museum, which opened in 1960 as a place to discover Anne’s story and discuss the dangers of discrimination, racism, and hatred of Jews.
Standing on Tower Hill in London, would you think of the girls? Hundreds of girls have likely been on this site, which dates back to Bronze Age settlements and, later, Roman villages. Yet its fame lies in violence - it is the site of public executions of high-profile traitors and criminals throughout Britain’s long reign. It’s victims include Sir Thomas More, George Boleyn, and his infamous sister Anne Boleyn. Yet in the lists of those executed, the majority are men.
Why? British tradition holds that executions of women were private affairs, carried out behind the closed doors of the Tower of London. This was the case for Anne Boleyn and her successor, Catherine Howard. It was also, potentially, the case for today’s girl - Lady Jane Grey.
Read the script here.
Image for this episode is The Streatham Portrait of Lady Jane Grey, discovered in the early 21st century and believed to be a copy of a 1590s painting of Jane. Artist unknown.
Nepal is one of several countries that still practices the building and use of Menstruation Huts. Though varied in location, we felt including the Menstruation Huts of Nepal on Sites of Girlhood was vital - demonstrating that centuries-old harmful practices still exist, and the locations on which they rest are both active sites and, at times, hallowed ground. Girls have died while using menstruation huts, due to the rigorous social customs that must be followed during menstruation. Whatever the reason, these huts are becoming synonymous in the Western world with gender discrimination and - to some - gender-based violence.
Read the script here.
The memorial commemorates a time in Vardo’s history when witches were not only persecuted--they were considered to be capable of witchcraft even very young. It was a period of numerous trials, including several on children, noting a new ideology in beliefs about witchcraft that saw its traditional victims--children--become advocates of the Devil. The year was 1621--the same year the Pilgrims sailed for America--and by its end, ninety-one people would die.
Read the script here.
According to Catholic tradition, Eulalia was a martyr during the early days of Christianity, when Barcelona was still a Roman city. Her body is entombed in the cathedral’s crypt, which was constructed over the site of a former Visigoth chapel and later Romanesque cathedral, both of which were damaged in attacks. Also, in her honor, thirteen white geese are kept in the cathedral’s Gothic cloister.
So why is she here and honored with white geese?
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