Youth Stories of Change

Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, South Africa, Rwanda … these are the home countries of the ten youth participants from the MenEngage Africa network who took part in the recent Youth Digital Stories workshop in Cape Town, August 2012.  Young Africans working on issues related to gender-based violence (GBV) were selected to craft a personal story about gender-based violence using images, footage and a recorded narrative.

Participants learned new skills in video editing and storytelling, and were provided a unique space to reflect on the way that gender-based violence has affected their lives. 

Funded by UNFPA, these stories will be used in workshops around the continent to spark discussion on a variety of aspects of gender-based violence. Workshop participants told stories about being direct and indirect victims of gender-based violence, of being a perpetrator of gender-based violence, of the challenges of breaking gender norms in societies with rigid expectations of men and women, and of great role models who promote and embody equality.

Digital stories are powerful tools in workshop settings because they offer a real, lived experience to the viewer.  One can theorise for days about gender-based violence, but an audience can often more easily relate to a personal story that shares how the effects of GBV have hurt someone’s life, with specific examples, and all the emotion that goes with it.  

Very importantly, the ten stories show that GBV and gender inequality is not a static thing but manifests in very different ways in people’s lives – all of them negative.  From the subtle violence of excluding people on the basis of sex at a young age, teasing and cat calling, to the explicit forms of GBV that include intimate partner violence, rape and even murder, GBV cuts across all classes, ages and nationalities.  Participants learned from one another’s stories, seeing the important similarities and differences between their individual experiences.

The participants had a whirlwind experience of Cape Town and bonded over food, ideas and laughs.  The workshop ended with a visit to Sonke Gender Justice Network’s Cape Town office, a screening of the rough cuts and a certification ceremony for all who took part.

The stories are still in post-production phase and will be published as they are completed.  Thanks to everyone who took part, Nkonzo Khanyile for organising the workshop and to Pam Sykes the facilitator.

By Londi Gamedze, Sonke Gender Justice Network, South Africa