Girls Leading Change

Digital media for change and well-being: Girl-led ‘from the ground up’ policy-making in addressing sexual violence at a South African university

This pilot project, funded by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Research Theme Grant, feeds into a larger project, Networks for change and well-being: Girl-led ‘from the ground up’ policy-making in addressing sexual violence in Indigenous communities in Canada and South Africa (SSHRC/IDRC, 2014-2020), led by Claudia Mitchell and Relebohile Moletsane.

This project is framed by the critical need for innovative approaches to policy making in relation to the safety and security of girls and young women, particularly in the context of high levels of sexual violence and HIV and AIDS. While sexual violence is a global issue, the study specifically explores ways in which the participation of young women in a democratic society could be and indeed must be transformative. On 4-5 October 2013, a small group of young first year women education students, hailing from the rural areas of the Eastern Cape, came together for a research workshop with Prof Naydene de Lange (NMMU) and Prof Relebohile Moletsane (UKZN).

The first phase of the project engaged the young women students in ‘cellphilm’ making and focus group discussions, in relation to various issues that are associated with young women and sexual violence in the age of AIDS. One of the envisaged outcomes of the project is to inform policy change, contributing to addressing sexual violence at university. The second phase of the project continued in 2014, where the issues raised in the cellphilms were used to generate a set of policy posters and action briefs to be shared with university policy makers. Several successful dialogues with key policy makers at the university have been held, contributing to further new initiatives at the university.

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