Writing is one of the cornerstones of our leadership development efforts with young women. We believe strongly in the importance of self-expression and the power of the written word. We consider writing a basic human right of sorts - every person should have the ability to share their story and a platform to do so. Further, writing is a critical vehicle for leadership and compelling change.
We are always looking to learn about and support other non-profit organizations that aim to teach writing skills and offer women various outlets for self-expression. In September, the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times, ran a feature in "The Female Factor," their series on women's issues, about the Afghan Women's Writing Project. The project, founded in 2008, sought to provide a protected platform for the women of Afghanistan to share their stories and views in a safe haven amidst a society prohibitive of self-expression for women. Given access to computers and the internet, freed of filters enforced by men, the women could write on any topic of their choosing, safely.
As more and more women made the trek to Kabul, where the Project is based, the organization’s founders began to recruit mentors to help participants develop their voices and writing skills. A team of published authors and activists teach online writing workshops from secure classrooms in the U.S. and mentor the women in Afghanistan via email. The Project now publishes an online magazine to showcase participants’ work.
There are a number of parallels between the AWWP initiative and Boston GLOW’s IGNITE Change essay contest. Similarly, our goal is to nurture and celebrate the voices of young women who have stories to tell, and to provide a platform for expression and mentoring to develop writing skills. Last year, we asked essay writers “what would you do if you could change anything in your school, community or city?” We were struck by how many had never been asked a question like that before. Many of them felt they would never be able to win a contest and were reluctant to even attempt it. With some encouragement, our eight finalists shared their unique perspective on the world around them and put forth actionable plans for change in their community. Working with published authors and mentors through GLOW, they have grown to develop their voices and understand the power that lies within them to make a difference.
We are continually inspired by similar missions happening elsewhere in the world – women helping women gain voices and activate change. We’re cheering on AWWP from the other side of the globe.
Read the AWWP magazine here: http://www.awwproject.org/category/writers/