After their recent civil war, communities in Mali are still recovering, and violence flares up even years after a peace agreement was signed. Women and girls were particularly targeted with violence during the war and now seek to rebuild their lives and communities. And through this, girls grapple with stigma and the narrow labels they are assigned by their communities: either victims or heroes who overcame great obstacles.
Mali Musso's Contribution:
Sadya, a young activist and founder of a grassroots organization called Mali Musso, wanted to give girls in her community the opportunity to tell their own stories in a new way. She wanted people to pay attention to the systemic issues girls face and to learn from the insights that girls in her community can offer.
Through Mali Musso, and with a MADRE grant from VIVA Girls, Sadya held a storytelling workshop for 25 girls. There, girls expressed their perspectives through writing, painting, and photography. The workshops were designed to ensure that all girls — especially girls who never had the chance to attend or finish school because of the war — could amplify their voices. The workshop allowed girls to share how they personally experienced the ongoing violence in Mali and their forward-looking strategies to bring peace and justice.
At the end of the first workshop, the girls wanted to ensure that the lessons and opportunities from this workshop were shared beyond those present. To support this, Mali Musso has connected girls with mentors who can help them as they replicate and reimagine this workshop in their own communities. Already, some of the girls have conducted leadership and community-building activities, including a discussion on reproductive rights.
They are also capturing the insights of the girls into a booklet to bring the girls’ voices into the spaces where decisions are being made about them, including in policymaking. The stories highlight the brilliance and resilience of the girls. They also highlight the systemic conditions and impacts created by long-term conflict, like early childhood marriage, sexual violence and lack of access to education.