By Maame Yelbert-Obeng
The World Cup may have ended this week in South Africa, but thanks to the Global Girl Media (GGM), the voices and life experiences of South African girls will live on.
Timed with the 2010 World Cup, which was hosted for the first time on African soil, GGM seized the opportunity to train up to twenty underserved girls in Soweto to cover the tournament. GGM is an organization that fosters the next generation of journalists to produce quality media that matters most to them. Four young women from Ekasi Women Arts in Soweto, a grantee partner of the Global Fund for Women, are participants. The skills they learn will help give voice to young women and coverage of a wide range of issues affecting young women, long after the World Cup is over. In fact, their stories are already opening eyes, ears and hearts.
Members of GGM produce mini documentaries on personal experiences growing up in South Africa, their hopes and dreams for themselves, their country and the world. They cover social issues, music, food, art, fashion, education and politics and interview government officials, teachers, family members, healthcare workers, farmers and entrepreneurs.
One powerful video produced by Zandile, a GGM reporter, is about her sister Busi, a lesbian who was gang raped by homophobic males she knew. After the rape, Busi got tested to find that she had contracted HIV. Zandile captures the deeply personal voices of her family, including the sorrow and anger of her mother. Even though Busi is no longer with them, Zandile was able to preserve the fierce and inspiring spirit of her sister through this moving documentary.
These are the documentaries that the GGM reporters produce, which are now broadcast via the Internet, cell phones, radio and print media, but also through major media outlets such as ESPN, Al Jazeera and Self Magazine. One of GGM’s mentors is Julie Foudy, a former captain of the US women’s soccer team who can see how cultivating these “citizen broadcast journalists” is also giving them confidence, support, and the relationships for career development.
GGM is crucial at a time when although the Internet and digital technologies are opening a world of possibilities for education, communication and activism on a global scale, it remains available to those with access and resources. The production of media is often worlds away for most impoverished young women, but we can all see the critical value of having them empowered and their stories visible. The 2010 World Cup may be over, but for the girls who took part in this training, we hope this is the beginning of a lifetime of opportunities.
Maame is part of the Sub-Saharan Africa Program Team.