About Us

Hardy Girls Healthy Women (HGHW)

Hardy Girls Healthy Women (HGHW) takes girls seriously and puts the power in their hands to challenge a society that ignores their brilliance. We dare adult allies to join us in standing with girls.

Girls cause a ruckus.

Inclusivity Statement
HGHW welcomes and celebrates the inclusivity of all self-identifying girls and women. This includes but is not limited to cis and trans girls and gender expansive folks across all identities, abilities, races, ethnicities, religions, economic statuses and sexual orientations.

Who We Are
As a Maine-based, research-driven nonprofit, HGHW has been empowering girls with knowledge, critical thinking skills, and a platform to drive social change since 2000. We’re about changing the culture, not fixing the girl. HGHW works with 1,200+ girls annually through year-round, statewide programs.

What is a “Ruckus”?
At HGHW, we actively encourage our participants to push back against the “norms” in their community that aren’t working or that prohibit others from being the best versions of themselves. While Merriam-Webster dictionary states a ruckus means “a noisy fight or disturbance,” we believe it can be quiet or loud, big or small, a one time action or a sustained movement. What matters is girls* working against systems that traditionally hold them down.

What is Hardiness?
The back of a packet of seeds tells you how much light, water and spacing a plant needs to grow and thrive. This information is based on a USDA standard, called hardiness zones, which considers the environmental conditions that plants need to thrive in certain locations. Ignoring the instructions and putting the seeds in unhealthy soil without sunlight and water could be the difference between
this: and this:
Big difference, right? But you wouldn’t blame the seed for its inability to grow in that environment. Yet, that’s what our society does to girls every day: plants them in misogynistic soil, pits them against each other, demands they look a certain way, and forces them to shove down their roots. And when a girl doesn’t bloom, we ask what’s wrong with her?

At Hardy Girls Healthy Women (HGHW), we believe it’s the environment that’s in need of attention. Girls aren’t the problem, they are part of the solution.

HGHW creates hardiness zones centered on giving girls:

  • An opportunity to think critically about the world around them. Without this, it’s easy to think the individuals are at fault instead of looking at the whole system which ignores girls’ brilliance.
  • Control over their environment
  • Commitment from a community and asking them to commit in return
  • A challenge to create change.

What is a Coalition? *
A safe space where women and girls can:

  • Relax, be uniquely themselves, and speak their thoughts and feelings
  • Experience supportive connections with other girls and with adult muses 
  • Discuss and share common views and goals
  • Feel less alone
  • Discuss and validate a range of feelings, desires, anxieties, and concerns
  • Think critically about stereotypes, unfairness, and hurt
  • Experience the power of sisterhood by crossing clique or peer group lines

* Adapted from Stronger Together Curriculum by Jackie Dupont and Lyn Mikel Brown

Since day one, Hardy Girls programming, resources and services have been powered by the latest research in girls’ development. Much of that research comes from the work of Hardy Girls co-creator, Lyn Mikel Brown. Read Dr. Brown’s keynote address Cultivating Hardiness Zones for Adolescent Girls and about the further research that was used as the guiding principles to help found this organization.