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Hidden World Of Girls: Share Your Stories

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Hidden World Of Girls: Share Your Stories

Hidden World Of Girls: Share Your Stories

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

NPR begins a new series today from our friends The Kitchen Sisters. It's about the lives and rituals of women and girls around the world: tribes' women in the Sahara, the traveling gypsies of Ireland, teenagers in New York City.

Ms. SOPHIA FISH: We would turn off all the lights, light four candles and we have this ritual box. We write our, like, deepest secrets or something like that, and we would put them inside the box. And we're not allowed to look at it for, like, years and years.

MONTAGNE: The inspiration for many of these stories comes from you, the listener. The Kitchen Sisters draw on your ideas to create the NPR series Hidden Kitchens, and also Lost and Found Sound.

By the way, they're not actually sisters. They're independent producers Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson. And they joined us for a bit of a preview. And, Davia, thanks for being here.

Ms. DAVIA NELSON (Producer, The Kitchen Sisters): Thanks so much for having us.

MONTAGNE: And, Nikki.

Ms. NIKKI SILVA (Producer, The Kitchen Sisters): Thank you.

MONTAGNE: Your new series is called "The Hidden World of Girls: Girls and the Women They Become." What is it about exactly and how did you come up with the idea?

Ms. SILVA: The series is looking into coming of age, rituals and rites of passage, secret identities, women who crossed the line, blazed a trail, changed the tide.

Ms. NELSON: The other thing is we've- over the years that Davia and I have worked together - we've done so many stories about women and girls. We've just been sort of drawn to that beat. We chronicled Vietnamese manicurists in the United States and WHER, the first all-girl radio station in the world and Memphis, Tennessee. We've just always been sort of drawn in those directions, I think seeking for models and stories about women that we look up to.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. SILVA: We're going to hear from a woman name Fadimata.

Ms. FADIMATA WALETT OUMAR (Leader, Tartit Women's Group): I am Fadimata Walett Oumar. I come from Mali, Taureg of Mali.

Ms. SILVA: She's part of the Taureg Tribe in a group from the Sahara Desert, the Timbuktu region called Tartit.

Ms. OUMAR: The life of the Taureg is the life of nomads living in the desert in a camp. We're in a camp.

Unidentified Woman #1: (Foreign language spoken)

Ms. OUMAR: Every time we move, we have to pack everything, put it on camels.

Unidentified Woman #1: (Foreign language spoken)

Ms. SILVA: One thing we noticed about the Taureg women, they have a lot of sexual liberty and virginity is not required for marriage. Women are sort of the most in charge in the culture.

Ms. OUMAR: Within the Tauregs, if someone doesnt love you anymore, you have to leave him. They say that the more times you divorce, the more beautiful you are and successful.

Unidentified Woman #1: (Foreign language spoken)

Ms. OUMAR: The women throw a party when they divorce.

Unidentified Woman #1: (Foreign language spoken)

Ms. OUMAR: The divorce party is a bigger party than the wedding.

MONTAGNE: You both traveled all over the world for this series. Were you ever surprised - well, I suppose either both by how similar some girls and women are, but also maybe how different?

Ms. NELSON: Yeah. This is Davia. You know, it's interesting you say that. I think about Tartit and nomad culture there in Mali, in the Sahara. And then I think of us in Dublin meeting Traveler Girls, those are sort of the gypsy culture of Ireland. They used to live on the sides of the road in caravans. Now the caravan is a mobile home. And now they're parked in these sort of concrete parking lots and they're becoming a little bit more settled.

But the life of these nomadic young Irish women and the life of these Taureg women, they're so very different but they're not all that different. You know?

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. SILVA: This is Nikki. This next excerpt came to us from my daughter. She kept calling me about this teacher that she has, so we went to talk with her.

Ms. CLAUDIA BERNARDI: October 20, 1992. (Foreign language spoken) There are 38 skeletons. We have uncovered them with brushes, gently.

Ms. SILVA: Claudia was born in Argentina and it's really a story about she and her sister, Patricia. Patricia became a founding member of the forensic anthropology team that exhumed the bodies of the disappeared from mass graves in Argentina. And later, Claudia and Patricia went to El Salvador and Claudia worked with that exhumation.

MONTAGNE: And she kept a journal during this excavation?

Ms. SILVA: She did. She kept a journal.

Ms. BERNARDI: I look at her and remembered summers in Buenos Aires, sister quarrels, going to school in the cold mornings of the wet winter. How did we arrive to being in this exhumation together, the Bernardi sisters?

Ms. NELSON: You know, one of the - this is Davia - and one of the aspects of these projects is reaching out to listeners and asking them to create these series with us. We open up the phone lines on NPR, like we did with Lost and Found Sounds and Hidden Kitchens. And here we are now saying, what are the hidden worlds of girls that you know, women and their stories?

MONTAGNE: Plus, when people record on your recording machine - old fashion as that might be - you can hear their voices and how they tell stories.

Ms. NELSON: One thing we noticed if you're delving into the lives of women and girls, you can't help but enter into the mysterious universe of their bodies.

(Soundbite of music)

And one story that really struck us was the use of chicken pills in Jamaica. Chicken pills are the pills that they use to fatten up the chickens, to give them bigger thighs and bigger breasts. And women got the ideas that if it was doing that for the chickens, it could do that for them.

Unidentified Woman #2: Most males, they love to see women with big bottoms. The whole idea of a Coca-Cola bottle shape...

Unidentified Man: Yah, when they're talking about a coca bottle shape, its heavier down on the hips.

Unidentified Woman #2: I dont want a magar(ph) woman. Thats how the men would speaker. You say meager, we say magar. They're figuring that if you look magar, you look poor, and poor in the sense of you're not being taken care of.

Ms. SILVA: The revered body is really large - they say the healthy body woman. And you'll be hearing the whole story on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED tonight.

MONTAGNE: Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, looking forward to the series myself. Thank you very much for joining us and giving us a bit of a preview.

Ms. NELSON: Thank you, Renee.

Ms. SILVA: Thanks, Renee. It's been a pleasure.

MONTAGNE: And as Davia just said, The Kitchen Sisters' new series "The Hidden World of Girls," begins later today on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

You can call them with your ideas and stories at 202-408-9576. Or send them photos, videos and diaries and we'll tell you how to do that at NPR.org.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Im Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

And Im Linda Wertheimer.

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