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Liberia: New E-Book 'Sit With Me' Tells Tales of Empowered Women Battling Prejudice

DAKAR, SenegaI, 04 May, 2022 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Advocacy group Niyel is pleased to announce the online launch of its illustrated e-book which documents the intimate stories of eleven intergenerational African women’s journey towards self-agency.

Titled Sit with Me, the stories shared provide a deep understanding of African women’s lived experiences of gender injustice within a patriarchal society and how they learned to navigate through it. Hosted on Niyel’s website for free download by the public, the stories traverse themes of female bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights; gender-based violence; economic justice and rights, and women’s leadership and political participation.

Lolo Cynthia Ihesie, Advocacy Officer at Niyel, explains the use of the storytelling technique as aiming to spark conversation around deep-rooted beliefs and behaviors regarding women’s agency and autonomy. “Storytelling has been identified as one of the most powerful tools to change norms and unearth limiting beliefs that have become normalized in society.” The e-book aims to reach the audience of teenage girls and young women whose norms are still being formed and have not yet been inhibited.

The concept is one of intimate sisterly learning – whereby a younger sister might sit with an elder sister, to listen, learn and draw strength from their experiences as they remove the cloak of silence. This mentoring methodology provides teenage girls and young women with tools and tips to increase their self-agency and awareness of the world. The e-book explores what happens in their minds, bodies and in their consequent personal, professional journeys and breakthrough moments.

Bintou Diallo is among the women who shared her story in the e-book. She speaks of her resilience as a child born from a union out of wedlock. Bintou says, “Falling is natural, but the will to get up is ours. When down, we can decide to stay there, keeping in mind that it is the path others have decided for us, or, we can rise – and that takes courage.”

Niyel’s objective for launching the e-book is to encourage everyone to download and read the inspiring stories. The advocacy group will be working with female-led organizations and book clubs to recommend the book to their various audiences. “We would like the book to become part of reading clubs in secondary schools. We also recognize that change is driven through conversations, and so we will be hosting Twitter Spaces and a #SitWithMe digital campaign for other women to share their own stories online, adds Ihesie.