Words have power. They have the power to unite or divide, heal or hurt.
This Women’s Month, social change NGO Heartlines is encouraging South Africans to change the narrative around women by embracing platforms like What’s Your Story? – a values-inspired campaign that uses the power of storytelling to promote understanding, trust and reconciliation.
“We live in a world where our stories are told in 140 characters and women’s issues are reduced to hashtags and headlines. If we don’t stop to ask, listen and tell our stories, we will never break down gender barriers or start to have real conversations that will promote tolerance and understanding,” says Heartlines project manager, Nevelia Moloi.
Women’s Month is the perfect time to reflect and address the current narrative around women, which is too commonly centred around violence, abuse, oppression or inequality. By giving ordinary South Africans the power of storytelling, mass media campaigns like What’s Your Story? can help create new ways of speaking about women, identity and gender relationships.
All South Africans are encouraged to submit their own stories to the platform.
In addition, Heartlines also offers community organisations, NGOs, religious groups and companies access to facilitated workshops and various resources around personal storytelling.
For the past 15 years, the Heartlines team has been turning mass media platforms into social values projects that help connect and engage people around key social issues. Some of Heartlines’ award-winning projects include Eight weeks. Eight values; One national conversation; and Nothing for Mahala: A campaign on values and money.
The issues may vary but the core method remains the same – personal storytelling.
“Stories promote understanding and healing. It’s no coincidence that healing is built around the telling and recording of our most personal and harrowing stories. Storytelling is the blood that pumps through this nation. It goes to the heart of who we are as a country and a continent.”