Gracious Lekgoathi, an AfNHi youth cohort member and HER Voice Fund Ambassador for South Africa used her digital advocacy skills to create an impact at the Women Deliver Conference 2023. As a panelist on the topic of “Online Community Building,” she emphasized the importance of educating and investing in mental health support for girls and young women in the digital space. Gracious stressed the need for both digital and traditional advocacy to create safe and inclusive online spaces.
She also stressed the need for both digital and traditional advocacy in order to create safe and inclusive online spaces for girls and young women. She used the digital advocacy skills she learned as part of the AFNHi youth cohort during the Youth Leadership and Advocacy programme to share her insights on creating safe and inclusive online spaces for girls and young women.
The Women Deliver Conference is a global gathering of leaders from the worlds of government, business, philanthropy, and civil society to discuss the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women. The conference was held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 16 to 20 July, 2023.
Her own experiences as a social impact digital content creator has given her a unique perspective on the power of digital media. She has seen how it can be used to raise awareness of important issues, connect with others, and build community. However, she also recognizes the potential for digital media to be used for harm. That’s why she is so passionate about using her digital advocacy skills to promote safe online spaces for girls and young women.
“We must not take for granted that girls are aware of how violence can occur online,” Lekgoathi said. “We need to educate them on their digital rights and how violence can surface online.”
Gracious also emphasized the importance of storytelling in digital advocacy. She believes that personal stories can be a powerful way to connect with others and raise awareness of important issues. “As we hold our policymakers accountable, let’s take into account that maybe they too need some of this information broken down to simpler terms for them to comprehend,” Gracious said. “This can be done through the storytelling of personal experiences.”
The AfNHi Youth Leadership and advocacy program which she is currently undergoing has provided Gracious with the skills and resources she needs to take her digital advocacy to the next level. She has so far learned how to create engaging content, build relationships with key stakeholders, and measure the impact of her work. She also gained the confidence to speak out on issues that matter to her, even when it’s difficult.
“I want to inspire girls and young women to use digital advocacy to become the best vision of themselves,” she said. “We have the power to change the world, and I believe that digital media is a powerful tool that we can use to do that.”
About the HER Voice Fund
The HER Voice Fund is a global initiative empowering adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) to advocate for their health and rights. Managed by Y+ Global, a youth-led organization promoting sexual and reproductive health, the fund uses digital advocacy through social media, online platforms, and training AGYW on digital tools to raise awareness and connect them to share experiences.
Gracious participation in the Women Deliver Conference was an important opportunity to raise awareness of the issue of violence against girls and young women online. Her digital advocacy skills helped her to reach a wide audience and to share her message of hope and empowerment. She is an inspiration to girls and young women everywhere, and her work is making a difference in the lives of those who are most vulnerable.