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Raising Awareness: Popular Culture Avenues for Kids

As we consider how might we normalise conversations on the issue of women's safety amongst children through accessible messaging – what can we learn from Africa's mobile novels for kids?

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There's been a bit of talk across the challenge so far on how to raise awareness about the issue of women's safety – including amongst boys and girls – in a way that doesn't come across as too top-down nor preachy. Took me back to a story I covered a while back for Design Observer on novels created for African youth which were delivered by via mobile phones.

"Yoza publishes short, hip novels and classic literature on mobile phones for African youth. Designed to encourage reading, writing and responding, Yoza engages African youth with stories and social issues. The project... is dedicated to a participatory culture hungry for micro-doses of literature that are accessible as pixels not paper...

The comments feature allows Yoza to stay in touch with what young readers readers want. “It’s become clear that youth are keen to be both educated and entertained,” he notes. “We get many requests for stories which are relevant to their lives... Social issues provide a further avenue for interaction. A story which touched on domestic violence elicited a slew of comments in support of the affected character and posts of personal accounts which empathised with her situation...

Looking to the future, Yoza has been speaking with various potential sponsors who understand the bridge he has created between reading, response and social issues. One such discussion has been with a bank around the notion of a series featuring elements of financial literacy within its storyline."

Read the full story:  Novel Tales and African Teens

While not every teenager or young person in low-income contexts has access to an internet connected cellphone, hopefully this might start to spark some thinking about how to get the messages around women's safety normalised through popular culture. We've heard elsewhere about comic books which teach financial literacy in India – which could be another avenue if pitched right. What about messaging on the insides of candy wrappers? Lots of possibilities...

How might we use story-telling to raise awareness on women's safety issues amongst young people – especially through popular culture? How might we normalise conversations on this issue through accessible messaging which is kid-friendly?



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I love this concept. Not just for African - American girls and boys but for all children. I remember being told stories as a child with the focus on the moral of the story. Of course these were actual books. In today's technology driven world not o lyrics is it easier to connect with these kids, but also tell the story which will connect a moral to real life. I love it!

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