Another way that we can show our youth clubs’ impact is through stories. Collecting stories and testimonies is challenging, although it is natural to tell them in many of our African traditions. Donors and funders want to see how their money impacts women’s and girls’ lives thanks to your youth project. They want to know that those girls are more confident, have higher incomes, or are safer. They want stories that inspire them and emotionally engage them so that they feel their generosity was worth their sacrifice or their investment was impactful. It’s an ethical challenge.  

Donors often talk easily about issues that we may find hard to talk about, or even ‘taboo’. They may be concerned about domestic violence, sexual harassment of girls, FGM, or parents imposing their will on their daughters. They expect our young women, or us, as leaders, to talk about these issues.  

But our stories are sacred. And we have a right – and a duty to others – to only share what we want of ourselves. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t use our struggles to inspire others, show the strength and capacity of African women, challenge negative stereotypes, and use others’ stories to do the same, with their permission. 

How can we ask people questions about their lives to understand the value of our work, or to see whether it is actually making the changes we imagine, in ways that empower them?

In the coming section, we will look at how we collect and tell women and girls’ stories, and share ideas for making your stories more powerful, so that they reach more people. This includes: 

  • How to ask the types of questions that will give you meaningful and impactful content. 
  • How we tell stories that engage different audiences, using tools like photos, video, social media, and websites.
  • How collecting stories can help us to improve our youth work and support more women and girls.

Reflection Questions

  1. What questions do you currently use when you ask young women about their lives?
  2. Imagine that you are 16 again, and someone who is funding your education (it could be a family member, another donor, or a government official) asked you what difference that education was having to your life, what three things would you tell them?  
  3. Step into the shoes (or even ask her, if you have the chance) of a young woman involved in your youth club. If someone were to ask her what difference your project is making to her, what would she say?
  4. How would a 16-year-old, or how would the girl above react, to being asked about domestic violence in her family, family finances, or her marriage plans?

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