Today is Day 8 of the 11 Days of Action leading up to International Day of the Girl on October 11. This youth-led movement to advocate for girls' rights and speak out against gender bias was recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011 when it adopted Resolution 66/170. This year's theme is "Innovating for Girls' Education."
In honor of this movement, and in celebration of girls everywhere, we share this story.
Of the many collaborative digital storytelling workshops I’ve led with Sonke Gender Justice Network (South Africa) since our partnership began in 2007, the session that Nombasa attended stands out for me. It was the first time I had the chance to travel into the heart of Eastern Cape, where Nelson Mandela was born and raised – and where communities today must contend with poor educational opportunities, a lack of infrastructure dating back to the era of the Bantustans, and tragically high rates of gender-based violence and HIV and AIDS. Nombasa and the other young people who attended the workshop were direct and unflinching in their willingness and ability to call out the problems that affect youth in the area and spoke with passion about their desire to show the world that their home is at the same time a place of enduring beautify that holds great promise for the future of South Africa. Rather than buying into simplistic rhetoric about the ability of girls to “change the world,” Nombasa understood that local young women have next to no say in the orchestration of public policy and wanted her story to point to the fact that adults must take the lead on creating safe spaces for girls and holding perpetrators of violence accountable. She came into the workshop well prepared, with a set of striking photos she took of the community and a 1,500 word script that I helped her craft into the piece shared above. The memory of working with Nombasa continues to touch me, especially when I think about the world that my own young daughter will inherit. I hope it’s a place where women and girls, as Nombasa states so eloquently, “...can stand tall, express themselves with confidence and pride, and walk freely in the streets. A place of peace, warmth, love, and freedom.”
– Amy Hill, StoryCenter's Silence Speaks Program Director