Female Zambian citizen journalists ready to tell their stories
by Taonga Grace Banda
For 14 months the #eSkills4Girls project ‘#SpeakUpGirls – Giving women and girls a voice through digital media’ in Zambia has trained women in digital skills, mobile storytelling and citizen journalism. Provided with a smartphone, a power bank, and monthly mobile data bundles, the women were encouraged to delve into the issues of their neighborhood and develop their digital skills. Additionally, the women were supported by mentors of local radio stations and TEDxLusaka alumni speakers.
In May 2021, the project was completed: 27 women from the provinces Copperbelt and Southern Province finally passed the training and received their graduation certificate.
The #SpeakUpGirls project was not without its challenges. To continue a citizen journalism project amidst a global pandemic was ambitious, to say the least. However, the digital tools that the project was relying on were of great help in facing the many COVID-19-related constraints. In at least equal measure it was thanks to the commitment, creativity and resilience of everyone involved that after 14 months the project was successfully completed in May 2021. The Zambian partner organization Alliance for Community Action (ACA) and the team from the Civil Society Participation Programme (CSPP, GIZ) were proud to see a total of 27 out of the 40 women and girls enrolled successfully graduate.
Over the duration of the project, more than 130 stories were produced and 120 were successfully published on the ACA Facebook page. Many of these stories were also broadcasted by local radio stations the project had partnered with in mentoring the aspiring journalists. The women and girls covered a wide range of topics centered around demanding accountability from duty bearers in their communities. Among several others, these stories covered issues of poor sanitation, abandoned government projects, increased cost of living and new community structures. One article on voter registration issues was published on the #eSkills4Girls-Website.
Graduation and Award Ceremony
The project’s collaboration with TEDx culminated in an event that combined this year’s TedxLusaka recording with the #SpeakUpGirls graduation. Luckily, the number of COVID-19 cases was low at the time so that the women and girls could physically attend under adherence to strict guidelines. This enabled the participants of the #SpeakUpGirls project from both provinces to finally meet each other, the mentors and the ACA and GIZ teams in person. The event was characterized by cheerful shouts, dances and all-around excitement from all who attended.
The top five stories were played at the graduation and awards were given to the top three participants as well as the most committed participant. The women and girls boasted zealously about how they wo
uld teach others in their communities to become citizen journalists and hold their duty bearers accountable.
For more information about the project #SpeakUpGirls – Giving women and girls a voice through digital media, click here