PrimeNewsGhana

Inspire Us Project; Empowering and Changing Gender Norms Through Literature

By Mutala Yakubu

Many groups, individuals and institutions have done notably well in addressing gender inequality, changing stereotypes and social norms.

As some are advocating for changes in policies, some are also protesting in the streets, others are also taking on the legal structure of their lands and advocating for change.

WORLD READER over the last year has used a different approach to empower women, challenge and address gender stereotypes leveled against women particularly in Africa.

Worldreader is an NGO that champions digital reading in underserved communities to create a world where everyone can be a reader.

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Using low-cost, state-of-the-art technology (e-readers, tablets, and mobile phones), a curated digital library of locally relevant titles, and a worldwide network of corporate and nonprofit partners, we help millions of people reach their potential by giving them books which inspires and encourages them to be the best.

In December 2018, Worldreader began the "Inspire Us project" to create a digital collection of 30 stories featuring Ghanaian and West African women role models.

The purpose of the collection was to highlight the stories of notable women in society and tell the stories of how they have broken barriers and jumped hurdles to change societal norms and become successful.

The stories were culled from authors and publishers across West Africa. After putting together the collection, Worldreader engaged young women between the ages of 15 and 24 through book clubs and other literary activities to encourage conversations around gender norms, gender stereotypes and the various themes that were evident in the books.

The collection contains 30 stories, in English and French, published by various notable authors and publishers across West Africa.

The collection contains both fictional and non-fiction stories, biographies, among others.

These books are available for free on the Worldreader Mobile application. Each story tackles various themes that are relatable to women in most communities.

These themes include rape and the importance of a safety net, the value society puts on male children and female children, masculinity and feminity, discrimination based on gender, abuse and how it affects women, the value of educating the girl child, how women are expected to use their bodies to gain opportunities, the power of the influence of a strong woman figure in a
child’s life and breaking gender stereotypes.

The overall project goal was to positively influence gender, societal norms and stereotypes across West Africa and inspire young women and girls with stories of women’s empowerment.

Through the "Inspire Us project", Worldreader has directly engaged over 30,000 West African women and girls between 15 and 24 years through various book clubs, on social media and through the Worldreader mobile application.