Rape, early and forced marriages, unwanted pregnancies, school dropouts, sextortion, human trafficking and all manner of assault. These are some of the many challenges faced by girls and there are numerous platforms that address girls’ issues in our society in a bid to ensure that girls are not victimized, marginalized or exploited and left vulnerable. These platforms can be physical engagements whilst some are online platforms. Over the years there has been a rise in the establishment of women forums and organizations that specifically tackle girls’ issues for instance in Bulawayo there is Women Institute for Leadership Development (WILD), Emthonjeni Women’s Forum, Young Women’s Alliance to name a few. Through the assistance of women’s organisations there have been capacity building trainings, workshops, symposiums that seek to empower girls on their rights and what is expected of them in a society. Girls have been marginalised in so many ways especially when it comes to education and leadership roles thus capacity trainings give young women a voice. It is noticeable that these platforms are critical and positively impact girls’ lives as they are now in the core when it comes to leadership roles; for instance, we now have female councillors, members of parliament, magistrates etc.
Radio programmes have also been used in addressing girls’ issues through awareness campaigns that encourage girls to speak out when they are harassed either physically, sexually or any form of abuse. Community meetings conducted by local leaders have played a significant role in harnessing girls’ issues, it is in these platforms where girls air out their views, concerns, grievances and suggesting solutions to solve these problems.
Social media has played a pivotal role as a platform to address girls’ issues. The use of hashtags on Twitter, YouTube videos, Facebook and blogs has been influential in addressing girls’ issues. Twitter has immensely changed the voice of the girls and has given pressure to governments to act in preventing any abuse of young women and girls. In South Africa there was a hashtag that went viral and was adopted globally that is #GirlsLivesMatter after the brutal killings and raping of girls. The pressure that was amounting from social media made the law enforcers to react and put the perpetrators behind bars.
In the same light, please welcome our new baby that also seeks to uplift and empower young women by amplifying their voices. This very magazine is part of the Amplifying Girls’ Voices Through Digital Arts project. A platform that is addressing girls’ everyday life issues through the use of various media platforms like online magazine, podcasts and videos. This is to help in the creation of safe spaces for young women on and offline. To have stories straight from young women’s hearts to your eyes and ears, the world as we see and idealise it. The project will tackle various issues from as many angles as possible in a bid to arrive at what works best for the collective and individuals. The centuries old repression of women and their rights cannot be undone overnight, hence the need for as many complimentary platforms that address these issues.
Dear girls, stay vocal and stay safe!