Anyone who's been 15 knows it's not an easy age.
Balancing family, school, relationships, jobs, and other realities of life as a teenager can be stressful, to say the least. Add hormones into the mix and, well, you'd better buckle up for an emotional ride.
But for many girls, those universal challenges are just the beginning of the struggle and hardship faced at this pivotal time in life. In some parts of the world, 15-year-olds must fight for such basic rights as getting an education. They face the prospect of becoming married, whether they want to or not; more than 200 million women around the world have been wed before the age of 15, according to UNICEF. Career options are often limited. Some face discrimination based solely on their gender. War, violence, and conflict leave their lives in jeopardy every single day.
On top of all that, the decisions they make at the brink of adulthood can alter the rest of their lives.
NPR has put those struggles — and the courageous actions young women are taking to succeed in the face of adversity — in the spotlight with a recent series called #15Girls.
NPR correspondents from around the world contributed profiles on young teens who "take risks, break rules, and defy stereotypes to create a better life for themselves."
The media organization also asked listeners to share their perspective on the hardest thing about being 15 by using the hashtag #15girls. More than 1,000 responses poured in, touching on everything from building confidence to dealing with extreme hardship.
NPR shared the photos and experiences of five of the girls featured in the series with Refinery29. Click through to learn more about their moving stories. For more on the series, including full audio and text stories, visit NPR's Goats and Soda Blog.
Photo credit: Jane Greenhalgh/NPR.