Giving a voice to young African women during coronavirus
This year, those marking Pan African Women's Day on 31 July had even more reason to celebrate. Two days previously the African Union launched "Sauti", meaning "my voice" in Arabic and Kiswahili. A digital collection featuring award-winning stories by twenty-five young women from across the five regions of Africa and its diaspora, it is the first ever feminist blog of its kind.
Young African women were invited to share their contributions in writing, visuals, audio or video, presenting their thoughts and innovations in the face of COVID-19, as well as their daily struggles amid the evolving pandemic.
From a total of 460 submissions, a review committee selected twenty-five outstanding entries to be featured on the African Union website and in the online publication. The winners were also awarded a 200 USD cash prize each in recognition of their creative work.
Commitment to advancing women's rights
"Since their stories are generally untold and under-represented, the idea was to collate twenty-five young female African voices to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action," Sauti’s editor Rim Menia said. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action remains one of the strongest commitments to advancing women’s rights.
Menia pointed out that Sauti offers a platform to "amplify the voices" of young African feminists, drawing attention to the ways in which COVID-19 is affecting their lives, but also to their actions and achievements in fighting this global health crisis.
The women-focussed submissions were required to address one of the following themes: Youth Silencing the Guns, Youth Refugee Voices, Ending Violence Against Young Women, Employment and Education Match, Youth Health and Wellbeing, and Young Peacebuilders.
Sauti, which will run as an annual blog, provides a new gender specific devoted to African youth, drawing women together in dialogue and action. "The publication is an Africa-led and youth-driven project," the editor emphasised.