Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Reading girls’ participation in Girl Up as feminist: club members’ activism in the UK, USA and Malawi

Walters, Rosie ORCID: 2018. Reading girls’ participation in Girl Up as feminist: club members’ activism in the UK, USA and Malawi. Gender and Development 26 (3) , pp. 477-493. 10.1080/13552074.2018.1523287

[thumbnail of 6_17_2020_Reading gi.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview


The United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign has been criticised by many feminists for perpetuating patronising discourses that see girls and women in the Global North as the saviours of their counterparts in the South, while doing little to challenge underlying global inequalities. This article draws on focus group data with Girl Up club members in the UK, USA and Malawi, and explores how they are adapting the aims of the campaign to better fit their own vision of empowerment. From girls in New York attending women’s marches together to girls in a township of Lilongwe marching to their friends’ parents’ houses to demand that they send their daughters to school, the girls have shown courage and creativity, their actions rejecting discourses of empowered Northern saviours and passive Southern girls in need of rescue. This article explores the agency with which girls negotiate discourses emerging from powerful international institutions, and puts forward the argument that these girls deserve recognition as feminist activists who are adapting campaigns, such as Girl Up, in order to challenge the many and complex injustices that they face in their own communities and globally.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Cardiff Law & Politics
Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1355-2074
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 February 2020
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2023 16:48

Citation Data

Cited 5 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics