Women’s Group Uses Writing as Therapy

logoThe Zimbabwe Women Writers (ZWW) says it has established an initiative that merges writing and practical therapy to empower women and vulnerable populations to counter social ills such as gender-based violence, child marriage and sexual abuse.

Speaking at a Food for Thought session hosted by the United States Embassy Public Affairs Section on Tuesday, officials from the ZWW said the project encompasses work with women writers and vulnerable groups to enable them to write as a form of therapy with the organization working with them to ensure new partnerships, networking and distribution

“We developed a concept that  empowers women with writing skills though workshops. Through writing, emotions are expressed in a healthy way and dealt with as the story is developed. Healing begins to take place, “said Debra Vakira, a member of the ZWW. “The story is written, without shame or bitterness or those other unpleasant emotions. When this story is read or even watched as a documentary by another woman in a similar circumstance, there is the possibility of transfer of the same healing power experienced by the victim in therapy. For women who have the ability and capacity to write the process of writing itself is therapeutic,” said Vakira who is also an author and a counselor.

The “peace writing and practical therapy” project works with victims of domestic violence, rape or abuse. The process enables them to tell their story to a writer and a counselor or therapist who in turn will counsel the victim during narration. When the book is complete, there will be parts where the art of therapy is included in the story to benefit the other woman in a similar situation.

“So we are saying your story is heard out there, you tell other people out there that this is happening. It raises awareness to other people,” she said.

Vakira added that “newspapers these days never run short of stories of violence towards women and even by women. Before acting, if one could stop for a moment and write their anger out, maybe the stories reported would be different.”

Josephine Muganiwa, ZWW director, told participants that when ZWW started, it collaborated with Adult Literacy Organization in Zimbabwe in the 1990s to promote literacy among its members. She said their members were found in places such as Goromonzi, Mutare, Gutu, Mzinyathi, and Chivhu. She said her organization is affiliated to the Women’s Coalition which they plan to work with to share expertise and information with other organizations working with women.

The workshops aim to foster creativity and competitions such as the Norma Kitson Writing competition and the Junior Advocacy which targets schools will be held. Through its affiliation with the Zimbabwe International Book Fair Association, ZWW will work to facilitate interaction among authors, publishers and Book sellers in Zimbabwe to promote distribution of books.

Digital formats, said the ZWW officials, have not been ignored.

“We are aware of the need to diversify,” said Muganiwa. “ZWW with the assistance from other partners has enabled us to train women from our clusters to make digital stories that are packaged on CD/DVD. We have also partnered with Mazwi for the electronic version of our publications,” she added. “We also hope to resuscitate the reading of books on radio and especially children’s literature.”

According to Panorama, an online arts magazine, ZWW has published more than 15 books in various subjects from creative writing, scholarly books and even recipes. Some of these books have been incorporated into the local Zimbabwe school syllabi while others are reference texts in institutes of higher learning across the globe. – ZimPAS © October 5, 2015.