Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Rising Sisters, Rising Communities

Project #
South Africa
Scripps College
  • Melissa Krassenstein
  • Ashley Simpson

Rising Sisters, Rising Communities

“Violence against girls is a global epidemic,” write Melissa Krassenstein and Ashley Simpson, “and the need for a supportive and empowering space for young girls to feel at peace and safe in their communities is a necessity.” They sought with their project to create a safe space, in which a group of girls could build the skills and confidence they need to tell their own stories, and to stand as a sisterhood in their communities.

Melissa, who grew up in China, and Ashley, from Jamaica, originally planned to work with young women in the correctional system in Cape Town, but the partnership they had begun with a South African nonprofit fell through. They decided instead to work with young girls from a community where, they write, “gang violence and shootings were rampant and instilled heightened fear among the people.”

At the Cape Town Central Library, the two students organized weekly workshops, together with the nonprofit Rock Girl SA. Girls in the sessions explored how they could use poetry and songs for self-expression, and social media for activism. They learned about various forms of activism and protest, along with change-promoting careers that South African women were pursuing. They went hiking and rock climbing, discussed sexual and reproductive health, joined in a Women’s Day dinner, and debated students from a local boys’ school on gender inequality, sexism and patriarchy.