About the Project
Long Live the Girls (LLTG) is a girls’ empowerment through creative expression initiative that creates safe spaces for girls and women to learn about and ‘talk back’ to their nations’ gender policies through poetry and creative writing. LLTG is a project under the umbrella of Break Arts: International Arts & Education Collaborative, which was founded in 2005 by a group of graduates from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Arts in Education Program. The Break Arts mission is to “inspire young people to co-author the stories of their lives” (www.breakarts.org). The project began in response to a growing need for girls and women to speak up and out against gender inequality in everyday life.
LLTG includes a series of writing workshops, guest speakers from government agencies and activist groups, a final literary publication, a literary reading and discussion tour, and a social media strategy to expand the reach in rural and urban communities. Over the last three years, we’ve worked with over 80 girls and women ranging in age from 9-55 to critically explore Ethiopia’s gender policies such as: Article 35 on the Rights of Women (Ethiopian Constitution), Ethiopian Criminal Codes, Ethiopian Revised Family Codes, United Republic of Tanzania’s proposed Article on Women’s Rights
These laws primarily address social issues such as rape, domestic violence, early marriage, girls’ education and working abroad — issues that deeply affect women in Ethiopia and Zanzibar. Through a cycle of reading, discussing, writing, and sharing, the girls and women shape their own ideas about the issues raised in these policies, and write original stories and poems in response.
Writing produced in the workshops are published and performed in the community, followed by community dialogues in a mixed-gender space. As a result, LLTG members feel more confident and prepared to address these issues when they arise, and become social allies to other girls and women who may want to discuss and explore these issues but don’t have the knowledge or resources.
LLTG has produced two literary publications (Girl Manifesto, 2013 and Love Rules, 2015), five literary readings, one literary tour to Addis Ababa, and have also worked to establish a social media presence.
We are planning a year-long project now in Zanzibar in partnership with FAWE-Zanzibar.