Networks for Change and Well-being: Girl-led ‘from the ground up’ policy making to address sexual violence in Canada and South Africa is a six year, $2.4 million (CAD) research initiative funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC) as part of their International Partnerships for Sustainable Societies (IPaSS) initiative. The project officially started on August 1, 2014.
This project involves collaborators and partners from universities and community organizations across Canada and South Africa. The Co-Principal Investigators of the partnership are Dr. Claudia Mitchell from the Faculty of Education at McGill University and Dr. Relebohile Moletsane from the School of Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
The project will focus on learning from the contexts in which communities of girls and young women are subject to exceptionally high rates of sexual violence. In the Canadian context this refers to self-identified young Indigenous girls/women, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, status or non-status, beneficiary or non-beneficiary, and includes Indigenous girls and young women who identify as Trans, Two Spirit, or gender non-conforming. In the South African context we will be working with girls and young women of a range of sexualities who belong to two of the official government designated groups, Black and Coloured (mixed race), and who live in rural areas.
The partnership draws on methods and approaches to learning ‘from the ground up’ (digital story-telling, participatory video, cellphilms, drawing and mapping, along with social media) and builds on various iterations of youth-led media making, community-based research, participatory action research, research as intervention, and research as social change.
- To conduct research into:
- the role of girls as knowledge producers in informing the study and eradication of sexual violence;
- indigenous knowledge (in relation to methodologies, ethics and well-being) in the context of a transnational study of indigenous girlhoods;
- the impact of participatory policy-making in relation to sexual violence on local, national and international communities.
- To develop academic and professional alliances among Canadian and South African partners towards:
- building knowledge and understanding from disciplinary, interdisciplinary and/or cross-sectoral perspectives on sexual violence;
- conducting digital and other participatory work with girls, particularly in the context of policy dialogue related to sexual violence.
- To build capacity by:
- training and supporting girl-focused community structures to combat sexual violence;
- providing high-quality research training to undergraduate, masters, doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty members in working with the development of digital tools, youth media, and girls themselves in both local and international contexts through ‘summer institutes’.
- To promote the exchange of knowledge and research findings to:
- advance the application of digital and social media tools in participatory research, and the development of innovations in communication networks in addressing sexual violence;
- engage policy makers in girl-led dialogue on sexual violence through exploring good practices; and
- create a transnational platform for raising awareness and advocacy on sexual violence.
This partnership project is organized into four research nodes:
- Digital and other participatory tools
- Girls as knowledge producers in relation to sexual violence
- Engaging policy makers
- Advocacy through communication networks
The overarching aim of this partnership is to study and advance the use of innovative approaches in knowledge-production, policy-making, and communication, in addressing sexual violence against Indigenous girls and young women in South Africa and Canada.