About the Writing Programme


About POWA

POWA is a non-profit organisation whose main purpose is to create a safer society that does not tolerate violence against women, and where women are powerful, self reliant, equal and respected.

Our mission is to be a powerful, specialised and multi skilled service provider that contributes to the complete eradication of violence against women in society, in order to enhance women’s quality of life.

In the main our work involves Sector Capacity Building and Strengthening; Law Reform; Information and Knowledge Dissemination; Right’s Education, Regional And International Strategic Advocacy, as well as the Writing Programme. The combination of all these activities help us work towards keeping the issue of women’s rights, with particular focus on violence against women on the national agenda.


The Writing Programme

The Writing Programme After years of listening to the numerous women who walked into our offices to ask for help, and in the process tell us their stories, we began to notice the absence of spaces, beyond the counselling set up, that existed for women to tell their stories of surviving gender based violence.

It is this realisation, coupled with the healing effect, which we had long observed, that women gained from being given the space and time to tell their stories, which motivated the setting up of the Writing Competition.


The move from Competition to Programme

Our idea in the beginning was to give women incentives, in the form of prizes, to tell their stories. However as much of a motivation as the prospect of winning a prize was, its inadvertent effect was that only a few of the many submissions we received actually made it into published anthology, effectively giving only those women whose stories had been published a chance to be heard.

An evaluation of the programme conducted in 2008 pointed to the need of developing additional avenues, on the one hand to provide assistance to as many women as possible to tell their stories and on the other to create a space for these stories to be heard.

The implementation of that decision made gave rise to the setting up of this website, whose aim, as part of our broadened Programme scope, is to achieve the objectives of giving support to women who are keen on writing as well as make space available for their voices to be heard, beyond the book.


Partner organisations

Even at the point when we were setting up the Programme, we understood the value that a visual representation through of images would have on quality of the book. This in part was the reason we sought partnership with other organisations with which we shared similar ideals. We found this partnership in the Curriculum Development Project Trust (CDP) an organisation whose focus is on helping women tell their stories through the visual mediums of drawing and sculpture.

The CDP have provided the artwork, which itself can be read on its own, but which has served to enhance the message of the stories in our anthologies over the past five years.



At its inception the work of the Writing Competition was made possible by a number of donors, who when we approached with the idea recognised the value and necessity of this initiative enough to support it. Amongst some of these donors were, the Ford Foundation, and the SAIH/ FOKUS.

The change of the initiative from a Competition to a Programme and its expansion was made possible by the funding we received from the National Lotteries, who also have made a commitment to fund our work for the next three years.


Programme staff

Carrie Shelver – the Project Manager responsible for the organisation and management of the project.

Nehwoh Belinda – is the programme coordinator, responsible for the administration of the project’s activities


Volunteers and outsourced staff

The work of the staff has always been supported by an Editorial committee, which from 2006 through to 2008 was convened by Liz Trew – a POWA volunteer and a published poet. In 2009 Lindiwe Nkutha – also a POWA volunteer and a writer of short stories and poems, performed this role.

Various individuals have sat on the committee:

2005 - Sally Shackleton, Janine Moolman, Busi Dlamini and Dinah Maanda

2006 - Lebogang Mashile, Barbara Pearce, Margaret Samuriwo and Zanele Twala

2007 - Lindiwe Nkutha, Ayanda Mavimbela, Barbara Pearce, and Dinah Maanda

2008 - Pumla Gqola, In 2009 - Zukiswa Wanner and Cynthia Dduzile Jele

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