Women’s Writing Project


In 2005, a need was identified to create a collective space through which women could share their stories of surviving gender-based violence. POWA proceeded to set up the Writing Competition (now Project) by inviting women throughout the country to send short stories, poems and personal stories about their journey of survival.

For some, it is their opportunity to relate their stories for the first time, while for others it is a healing process. Some have achieved their lifelong dream of being published writers through this project, while others have been identified through this project (remove through this project) to perform their poetry in international conferences. This project covers women nationally as entry forms are open to applicants throughout the country.

Built on feminist principles, the project encourages women, through writing, to rid themselves of the shackles of silence, which often are the means through which the violence is perpetuated. The aim is to use writing and creative arts to facilitate healing whilst women share their stories.

In 2008, POWA reviewed the project’s structure and after much consideration, decided to change it from competition to project, thereby creating a safe space for as many women voices as possible.
One of the ways in which POWA empowers aspiring writers is by developing and improving writing skills. To this end, women are assisted to create a world which is safe in their country, communities, bodies, homes and minds through writing.

The aim of the POWA writing project is to create a safe space for women to break the silence on different forms of abuse that they have experienced. It also gives women an opportunity to reflect onto their lived realities with an intention of positively shaping their landscape, and influencing the thinking and decisions of other women in the same circumstances. The ultimate aim being provision of therapy to the authors as women are not a homogeneous group; they heal differently.

Since its inception, the project has produced the following anthologies under the Breaking the Silence series:

Voices from the field

Too short but wow!
It’s our first together like this
But it felt like we’ve been like this before.
We’re so attached to each other
Wow it’s amazing what a connection?
It’s been a short time but greate.
We laughed together
We cried together
We share all emotions together
Wow! What a sense of togetherness?
Sense of belonging
Too short but wow!
It’s been too short but crazy rocking
Wow guyz its been great
I wish we could be like this again
But for some time course
This time around was too short but wow!
– written to POWA by Nhlanhla Ncwane after a three days writing workshop in Durban
More than being an opportunity to write, POWA works with the women to develop and draft their stories. It is space for women to reflect on themselves, something that is a area opportunity for them.

What we’ve accomplished

During the past 6 years, 180 women writers have been published in the Breaking the Silence series anthologies.

  • Love and Revolution, 2010, 20 women published
  • Stories from the Other(ed) Women, 2009, 26 women published
  • Journeys to Recovery, 2008, 23 women published
  • Murmurs of the Girl in me, 2007, 20 women published
  • Positive Survivors, 2006, 20 women published
  • Dreaming of living 2005, 16 women published
  • Training and DevelopmentSector Strengthening project
    The work of the Training department has been focused on strengthening the women’s rights sector with a particular focus in areas where women lack access to services. The has seen emerging community based organisations strengthening internal organisational management systems and processes. Through this process some of the organisations developed organisational policies and have managed to attract donor funding. This translated to increased confidence from volunteers and staff and subsequently resulted to effective services for beneficiaries.

Since its inception, the project has produced the following anthologies under the Breaking the Silence series:
2005 – Dreaming of Living
2006 – Positive Survivors
2007 – Murmurs of the Girl in Me
2008 – Journeys to Recovery
2009 – Stories from the Other(ed) Woman
2010 – Love & Revolution
2011 – Sisterhood
2013 – Breaking the Silence: Special Edition
2015 – Perfectly Imperfect
2016 – New Dawn
2017 – Painting My Future
2018 – My Womanhood, My World
2019 – Wounded Trust
2021/2022 – Unroped