POWA is a non-profit organisation whose main purpose is to create a safer society that does not tolerate violence against women, and where women are powerful, self reliant, equal and respected.
In the main our work involves Sector Capacity Building and Strengthening; Law Reform; Information and Knowledge Dissemination; Right’s Education, Regional And International Strategic Advocacy, as well as the Writing Programme. The combination of all these activities help us work towards keeping the issue of women’s rights, with particular focus on violence against women on the national agenda.
The Writing Programme
The Writing Programme After years of listening to the numerous women who walked into our offices to ask for help, and in the process tell us their stories, we began to notice the absence of spaces, beyond the counselling set up, that existed for women to tell their stories of surviving gender based violence.
It is this realisation, coupled with the healing effect, which we had long observed, that women gained from being given the space and time to tell their stories, which motivated the setting up of the Writing Competition.
The move from Competition to Programme
Our idea in the beginning was to give women incentives, in the form of prizes, to tell their stories. However as much of a motivation as the prospect of winning a prize was, its inadvertent effect was that only a few of the many submissions we received actually made it into published anthology, effectively giving only those women whose stories had been published a chance to be heard.
An evaluation of the programme conducted in 2008 pointed to the need of developing additional avenues, on the one hand to provide assistance to as many women as possible to tell their stories and on the other to create a space for these stories to be heard.
The implementation of that decision made gave rise to the setting up of this website, whose aim, as part of our broadened Programme scope, is to achieve the objectives of giving support to women who are keen on writing as well as make space available for their voices to be heard, beyond the book.
Even at the point when we were setting up the Programme, we understood the value that a visual representation through of images would have on quality of the book. This in part was the reason we sought partnership with other organisations with which we shared similar ideals. We found this partnership in the Curriculum Development Project Trust (CDP) an organisation whose focus is on helping women tell their stories through the visual mediums of drawing and sculpture.
The CDP have provided the artwork, which itself can be read on its own, but which has served to enhance the message of the stories in our anthologies over the past five years.
Oxfam, ABSA, Suzan Stehlik and Eskom