he Power of the Collective can change our communities

“The work I’ve done with 1in9 has taught me more about GBV, and the biggest difference is that I never knew that I’ve been abused together with my children.”

“At first I didn’t have knowledge on how to communicate with other people, 1in9 helped me with skills and lifted my self-esteem by showing me that I’m also valuable, change the negative attitude I had on myself by teaching me about different power’s that are there around us.”

When Nomasonto, affectionately known to everyone as Sonti, first met the 1in9 Campaign in 2019, she thought it’s only a workshop just like other workshops she’s attended before but it turned out to be different.

“The work I’ve done with 1in9 has taught me more about GBV, and the biggest difference is that I never knew that I’ve been abused together with my children and that we as women we feel defeated at all times.”

When we met Sonti and her organisation, they were working with a target group that we have all forgotten and left out of the discourse around GBV and other social issues; the elderly. SMK gives them a space that makes them feel included and important in our society. Elderly women are disproportionately affected by GBV; their pension money is stolen by grandchildren and other family members. They are mistreated and called “witches”, killed, attacked and not much gets done to protect them by the necessary government departments.

She stresses the importance of having workshops that include the media, visibility and awareness raising as it helps bring about change in the community. Through spreading the messages against GBV and now the community especially the elders know their rights better. The work that Sonti and her team does has inspired the campaign to design a program that involves elderly women.

“What I like is that I was taught about the different types of powers and how they operate and the strength of the collective power in changing things.”

The project inspires collective work and solidarity and through that Sonti mentions how one of the participant organisation “Serapeng helps the community with herbs to cure all kinds of disease, especially the chronic and sell them fresh from the soil at lower prices”, which is beneficial to her group as she works with the elderly who are often neglected.

She says that the community doesn’t want to talk about or expose violence like hate crimes, killing of elderly women, gays and lesbians and that the kind of work we do overcomes this by bringing marches to the community for awareness and attention to the issues faced by women in the community.

Her future plans are to spread what she has learned to the rest of her community by introducing performance arts into their workshops and create media that will bring visibility to the issues.

Sonti is inspired by Chief Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti. A Nigerian woman who is also a mother and started an organisation in her home country that deals with taxation.

Ransome-Kuti was an educator, political campaigner, suffragist, and women’s rights activist and Sonti is also an educator to the elders in her community and sees these similarities as inspiration to continue with her work. “Ransome-Kuti fought for taxation, and I am fighting for our community to know what feminism is and how it can help us change our realities.”