Changemaker: Tinatswe Mhaka
Country of Implementation: Zimbabwe
In recent decades, the economic and political climate of Zimbabwe has been characterised by political unrest, increased poverty, and hardened corruption. As a result, social harms have increased immensely with sexual gender-based violence prevailing in all forms (child marriage, gendered corruption); heightened food insecurity; increased violence in mining areas; lack of access to education due to limited state resources; and tuition fees above the Poverty Datum Line. These issues are incited by low documentation and lack of coverage in mass and digital media. The current status quo of media representation has gone unchallenged and, as a result, the state further disadvantages these areas in service delivery. Donors also continue to hold inaccurate narratives of the lived experiences of injustices in rural and remote Zimbabwe. To change this, Feminist Voices Zimbabwe carried out the ZimGirlNarratives project to capacitate 10 versatile, rural female creatives to carry out storytelling in their respective forms for the publication of art through international publishing houses and across digital media. They were trained in creative writing, visual art (drawing, painting), and how to leverage their experiences to develop and write stories using their creative talents. The cohort was divided into three themes; namely Period Poverty, Food Insecurity, and Girls Education. The facilitators of the training and storytelling sessions were published authors and journalists such as Tinatswe Mhaka and other visual artists, seasoned in working on team projects for the purpose of digital showcasing. The art that was produced by the participants was sold on the Feminist Voices Zimbabwe digital platforms and the written work was published as a short story compilation that redirected proceeds into continued creative ventures and educational costs of the participants. The impact of the project was that young creatives have been provided with continuous support to unlock their full potential and skills for future employability. The project also realized increased mainstreaming of gender inequality and created a baseline for donors looking to target certain social harms.