We are those girls – Writing our stories

While working with youth through the Date Rape Campaign, Nisaa realised that there are so many stories untold and so many voices that go unheard, especially the voices of young girls. Nisaa’s Date Rape Pro- gramme has been on going since 2002. It provides youth with valuable information on gender, sex, dating, HIV and AIDS. It also allows youth to debate and actively think about their future and how their actions affect their lives. Nisaa constantly ensures that the programme evolves as trends and practices amongst youth change. Over time, Nisaa found that boys were making significant positive shifts in thinking about sex, dating and gendered relations. We are those girls
Smiling through storms
Overcoming things thrown in our paths
We are those girls
Beautiful, intelligent, wise, strong
Proud of ourselves
Willing to move our country forward
Not judging or laughing at other girls’ wounds
Sisters making a single bond
Breaking the chain of fear
Making our voices heard

However, shifts amongst the girls were not as prominent. It was evident that there was need to work more closely with girls who felt that it was normal to date older men and engage in risky sexual practices. The girls highlighted that they entered into sexually active relationships as a result of peer pressure. We also ob- served that most girls were a lot quieter during date rape discussions. We wanted to hear their voices and learn about their lived experience as teenage girls. As such, Nisaa undertook this writing project to get a better understanding of the lived experiences of young women from the south of Johannesburg.
The conceptualisation and planning for this project began in 2015 through internal consultations between Nisaa Institute for Women’s

Development and Oxfam Germany in liaison with BMZ (the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of the German Government). External consultations followed with Shamim Meer to plan and customise the girls writing workshop.
Nisaa recruited girls for the writing workshop from the schools visited through the Date Rape Programme. Pupils had been introduced to Nisaa’s previous publications during that campaign and they had viewed Nisaa’s public service announcements with scripts which were written by pupils. This brought to the fore that girls had the ability to write and share their stories in order to be better understood by teachers, parents, male peers and other stakeholders whom they may encounter. As one writer says, “Last week’s workshop was a path finder for me. I found who I am and what I want. I learnt that we all come from different backgrounds but at the end of it all, we are just the same. It also sunk into my head that women have the power to change the world.”

It is evident that they have written powerful stories, even though the process involved grappling with past trauma in their lives. “I felt so emotional as I wrote about my story. It felt so real because it took me back to those days of sad memories. As I was writing I felt relieved to share the things we as young women face in our everyday lives.”
Although a difficult journey, most writers were pleased and felt that the process was helpful. “It was very good to be associated with different people who made me feel strong. This made me feel very special. I blossomed. I realise I am not alone. I have come to understand myself and other people.”
Nisaa extends heartfelt congratulations to all the writers. We appreciate your strength in telling and sharing a piece of your soul with us. Nisaa would also like to thank Oxfam Germany and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of the German Government who supported this project. Thank you to the facilitators Shamim Meer and Nyasha Mukuwane for their effort and commitment to this project and for working alongside Nisaa in a constructive, amicable and sisterly manner. Thank you to the support staff, Fikile Thusi and Francinah Mokoena who assisted in supporting the girls as they wrote and thereafter.

Published by:
Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development
19 Link Street Extension 1 Lenasia
Tel 011 854 5804
This book was produced with funding support from:
The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of the German
Government (BMZ) and Oxfam Germany.
The views expressed in this book are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of the Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development, BMZ, Oxfam
or its staff.
Excerpts from this book may be reproduced or quoted provided that the source is
Writing Support and Editing: Shamim Meer
Writing Workshop Facilitation: Shamim Meer and Nyasha Mukuwane
Cover design and layout: Naadira Patel
The drawings that accompany each story were made by the writers themselves.
The line drawings of the schoolgirls at their writing tables, in Tai Chi positions and
feedback groups were made by Naadira Patel.
Images copyright Nisaa and the artists © 2016
May 2016
ISBN Number 978-0-620-71516-4
Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development is a non-profit non-governmental organization
working on gender-based violence and the empowerment of women from intimate abusive
relationships. Nisaa’s vision is to enable women and their children to live in a world
free of violence and discrimination. Nisaa provides sheltering and counselling services
and undertakes advocacy initiatives. Nisaa’s Basadi Pele project enables unemployed
women to gain skills in jewellery making.

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