Since 2010, Rock Girls have partnered with artists and designers, schools, as well as other NGOs to create Safe Space projects. Some of these projects include:
Safe Space Art Room
In November 2016, as a result of the advocacy efforts of the Rock Girls and their families, the Western Cape Department of Education built and opened a brand new school for Red River Primary, that includes a library, Safe Spaces for girls and boys, and sports fields, all contained within a bullet-resistent fence.
The first 60 girls who joined as Rock Girls in grade 5 all successfully matriculated to grade 8 to start high school, an incredible success given 40% of girls in South Africa drop out after grade 7.
In 2012, Rock Girl partnered with comedian Amy Poehler’s “Smart Girls at the Party” televised show to share the day in the life of a girl in South Africa. With the support of One Dog Chicken Production Company, Rock Girl and Rasheida, a thirteen-year old girl from Manenberg, took viewers on a tour of a day in her life. This was aired online and viewed by girls around the world.
Safe Space Inside Out Project
In the spirit of collaboration and creativity that is at the heart of Rock Girl, photographers and producers from One Dog Chicken and boys and girls from the Rock Girl Red River programme conducted a workshop on violence against women and girls and boy-girl interactions, discussing the challenges of being a boy and girl in South Africa. The girls and boys then worked with leading photographers to capture each other on film. With the help of the Inside Out project, an award winning TED initiative, enlarged copies of these photographs and the video were pasted up at St. Andrews Square in Cape Town by the learners on Women’s Day 2013. Since then, the images have also been projected at venues around the city, encouraging viewers to consider the challenges that boys and girls face as they grow up in Cape Town.
In August 2013, Rock Girl partnered with the Shine Centre to install a Safe Spaces Book Hoek at St. Andrews Square, with the support of Marc Truss and the CCID. The Book Hoek was selected as a World Design Capital project and in 2014, five additional Book Hoeks were installed around the city of Cape Town, at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Manenberg Peoples Centre, Khayelitsha HIV-AIDS Clinic, and the Cape Town Central Library. The Book Hoeks combine a safe place to sit with a mini-free library stocked with up to 50 books from the Bookery. The Book Hoeks encouraged literacy and a love of reading and provide access to books to those who might not otherwise experience them on a daily basis. The Shine Centre also sponsored a Safe Spaces bicycle, staffed by interns from Grassroot Soccer, that re-stocked the Book Hoeks each week in 2014.
From 2013-2016, Rock Girl partnered with the Children’s Radio Foundation to train youth to become youth reporters, particularly focused on issues of violence against women and children, reproductive health, safety, and gender. Rock Girls produced a radio show on violence in 2013 that aired on SAFM. From 2014-2016, the Children’s Radio Foundation trained girls to become Youth Reporters before their participation on the BRAVE Rock Girl Road Trips.
Since 2011, over 400 girls in grades 6 and 7 have benefited from Rock Girl Leadership Camps, where girls travel to locations outside their communities to experience nature, reflect on the challenges they face, learn important leadership skills, and explore ways to strengthen their own lives and their communities.
In mid-2013, gang violence escalated in Manenberg, forcing many schools to stay closed as a result of shootings. Fifteen people were murdered on one street in one month. Inspired by their teachers, who stood by the learners and protected them in the worst violence, Rock Girl and other organisations united to demand that schools received police support and protection, and that a long-term plan was created to address the challenges created by gangs and drug-related crime in Manenberg. In December 2013, the Open Society Foundation funded the Safe Manenberg, dedicated to building a safer community for all. Rock Girls were an instrumental part of this campaign and continue to advocate for peace in this gang-torn community.
In January 2014, Rock Girls began meeting with Rock Girl alums in grades 8 and 9, who had previously participated in the Rock Girl programme in primary school at Red River. These girls all attended different high schools but wanted to unite to continue their work to create a safer community and to support each other. Today, the programme still meets once a week at locations around Cape Town and includes girls from over 20 high schools around Cape Town. The workshops continue to focus on building the girls’ confidence, critical thinking skills, and connections with their peers and the broader world outside their own communities, so that they can become girl leaders.
In early 2015, Rock Girls partnered with Iliso Labantu, a photography cooperative that supports township photographers, and with the Children’s Radio Foundation, who train youth to be amplify their voices using radio, to document and record girls’ stories and produce a radio show about the challenges of being a girl. Rock Girls also created mobile benches, in partnership with Inhouse Brand Architects, that were used as the stage for these interviews with girls in Khayelitsha and Langa. Historically, benches were used to divide South Africans. Rock Girl used the mobile benches to break down barriers and unite people in their shared stories.
In 2014, Rock Girls partnered with the incredible artist, the late Paul du Toit, and fashion brand Jenni Button, a subsidiary of the Platinum Group, to create beautiful tank tops to raise awareness about violence against girls and women, celebrate women’s strength and reslience, and also raise funds for the Rock Girls leadership camps and afterschool programmes for girls. The vests reflected the energy and spirit of the girls from Manenberg and inspired others to do more to create safe spaces in their own lives.