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My Story

We asked our online community of grassroots women leaders from 190 countries to submit their true stories about a time they took a stand on an issue they care about. This story is a selection of a few of the most powerful pieces.

Read all the inspiring submissions, and stay tuned for an announcement about next year's My Story contest.

Click here to read all the powerful submissions.

My Story: Standing Up


© Grant Australia

"My hand successfully reaches hers."

Nipo | Bangladesh


Space to Stand

The bus is jam-packed at over double its capacity. People are leaning against each other and some are simply hanging onto the door handles. It is hard to figure out which legs belong to which head. It makes me think of cockroaches inside a little dirty chocolate packet left in a dustbin. The mixture of body odor, perfume, cigarette smoke, and vehicles is nauseating.

I am seated right above the engine, which is covered with thin foam to prevent female passengers from getting burned. My Kameez is wet, clinging to my sweaty back.

As we wait in a traffic jam, a lady wearing a black veil tries to get in the bus. The conductor has refused and begins to argue with her. Amidst people’s chattering, nonstop horns, music from the nearby CD shop, and the sporadic noise of construction work, the conductor’s shouting is only adding to the sound pollution.

One man curtly shouts, “Ladies are foolish and always make trouble. Now we do not even have any places to stand!” In response, a woman from my part of the crowd yells at the conductor, “Let her in!” Some of us join her with supportive words.

The lady enters like a cat. When the bus starts to move, her hands look for something to grab for balance. My hand successfully reaches hers. I manage my legs by leaning my feet against the seat to make some room for her to stand. She holds my wet shoulder. I feel that she is me and I am her. After two stops she looks at me and gets off the bus. I see her walk along the footpath—a singular girl. She joins the crowd of women walking ahead, and she becomes one of many.

Nipo | Bangladesh


Pss! Pss! I Slapped a Policeman Today

City flea market, Harare.

We shuffle through heaps of old clothes to find the cheapest. We resell these at a dollar each in Epworth, a rural settlement outside Harare. We sell to get just enough profit for the following day’s budget and remain with capital for tomorrow's order. We buy bread for children's sandwiches, veggies and tomatoes for supper, and keep coins for bus fare and pocket money.

The second hand clothes in the stacks smell so much.

'But why do the clothes smell this much?' my friend Lillian asks.

“I don’t know and I don’t care, Lillian, I just want the good ones. Somebody told me it’s a chemical that they spray to preserve the clothes.”

Suddenly we hear, “Kunyepa, mapeche enyu ndiwo anonhuwa!” In English, this means “You lie, it is your vaginas that smell!”

Before I realize that the intruder is a policeman, I slap him hard, twice. His cap falls down. As he bends to pick it up someone kicks him from behind. He bites the ground and groans. Crowd, jeers!

The policeman lies tummy down. Somebody nudges me and whispers, “Run!! There is going to be a scene.”

I hold Lillian’s hand and we run through the crowds. We jump into a taxi.

“Please take us to the main market, quick!” I throw a note, the driver takes off.

We buy cheap clothes and quickly change into them, discarding our original outfits.

We board a bus home, straight from the market. No city routes.

As I try to sit down someone nudges me and starts laughing. Another man!

‘But why are you laughing?’ I ask, feigning courage.

‘I was there. I kicked the policeman. I helped you get away?’

My heart kicks, I want to run!

‘Don’t be scared, well done. No more abuse of women in the city market. You are a strong woman!’

‘A strong vagina warrior!’ I shout back.

I look at Lillian, our eyes lock and we laugh again.

Chibairo | Zimbabwe

 . . .


nusrat1977's picture

I am proud of you!

Rabia, I am so proud of you. I feel, such a law in any country is highly humiliating and insulting to every woman. I am so glad that you both sisters risked your lives on a freezing morning for all of us and you were successful. May God bless you immensely for that.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. ..........Hellen Keller

Huma's picture

For Rabia and Mahe Jabeen

Rabia what you did was so courageous and so brave! I'm really proud of you! You helped change the course of history, you're amazing!

Mahe Jabeen, wow. I cannot believe the audacity of that man. I am glad you stood up to him, and stood up for the rest of us. Such hatred against a natural phenomena that ALL women have to face is ridiculous. If anything they should be appreciative of the pain we have to go through! Congratulations on your achievements.

Girls will one day rule the world.

Huma's picture

For Chibairo and Nipo

Chibairo, you made me laugh with your courage and bravery! Standing up to verbal abuse is just as hard as standing up to physical abuse, and you are a hero! I'm glad you're safe from the policeman, and I'm glad you had help! It just goes to show you that there are only a few rotten people in the world, the rest are advocates for equality ! Well done!

Nipo, I'm so glad you helped that woman with the veil. We have to help each other, regardless of whether we're dripping in sweat or even if there isn't any space to stand. I'm so glad you did that, it gives me peace of mind to know that she was helped by someone, and YOU'RE the one who helped her, I thank you and I salute you!

Girls will one day rule the world.

Nipo's picture

Thank you HUMA!

I am honored by your salute and the courage to help others wouldn't be there if there were many others women like me supported me. Like you I also believe we have help each other. Your respect and comment is like courage for standing for ourselves.

Thanks a lot.



All of you are so inspirational.... I'm just a student at school having trouble studying for my courses. Reading your stories inspired me so much. You have faced such difficult situations and have survived. You truly inspire me. I'm glad all of you are well and that you're doing all you can to change the world you live in.
Girls will one day rule the world.

nilima's picture


Inspiring stories, leadership doesn't mean that you have to lead all alone, contributing from a grassroots level even with the small voice brings the change.

Thank you world pulse, this is the beautiful topic to hear the stories.

Kevii_kur's picture

Womens rights

In this article, a young woman, Rabia Salihi, and her sister had went to the Khatam-un-Nabiyeen, a religious university that was led by Sheikh Asif Mohsini, a politician ruler that had come up with a law that most women were against, to protest against this new rule. The law stated that women had to desire all of their husbands wants and if they were violated by another man he could just pay the family money and not be punished for the crime. I find this very unfair because women don't have the opportunity to speak up and refuse, basically they are forced upon this rule. Rabia found this rule very unfair also, which is why she stood up for the protest. Both her sister and herself faced harsh treatment and violence, but in the end it was all worth it because they were able to convince the Parliament to repeal the law.
Events like this happen very often, women are always discriminized and their rights are always violated. Rabia and her sister not only saved the women and young girls around them, but also the women of future generations, they showed that it is possible for women to have their voice heard and all the struggle is worth it. Also, other people should be informed about this harsh treatment so situations like this can be prevented. People need to stop underestimating women and their skills, they're more capable of things than they seem to be. I am a very big supporter of Rabia and her sister for their protest and their fight for the protection of womens' rights, they have saved many people without realizing and action like this should be followed to continue the protection of women's rights.

zarha.saifey's picture

Afrikan Goddess

Dear friend,

To me stereotypes are just like genocide. In e both cases, we are killing individuals' existence. Unfortunately, media has had a big role in creating stereotypes and false images. My country, Afghanistan, is one of the victims of stereotypes too. I had been far from my country for my entire life and I was scared to visit my hometown because what I had seen from media was just a war torn country full of ruins. However, going back to my country after almost 20 years, I found it destroyed but full of happiness and hope. That is why I started taking picture from different parts of Afghanistan and posting them on Facebook so to surprise my friends.
Even though Africa or Afghanistan or any other poor country may have of slum areas and "unpleasant" sights, I'm sure, there is beauty hidden there.
I'm happy that you are proud of who you are.

Zahra from Afghanistan

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