Contributors are invited to submit manuscripts on the above topic from the point of view either of researchers or activists. Abstracts and contributions must be written in English and in a style accessible to a wide audience. Please submit abstracts to or

No later than 17th February 2020

Agenda has been at the forefront of feminist publishing in South Africa for the past 30 years and raises debate around women’s rights and gender issues. The journal is designed to promote critical thinking and debate and aims to strengthen the capacity of both men and women to challenge gender discrimination and injustice. The Agenda journal is an IBSS/SAPSE accredited and peer-reviewed journal.

GUEST EDITORS: Professors Mitchell, C., Moletsane, R. and Dr. Choonara, S.

Conceptual Rationale:
In this issue of Agenda, we are seeking articles and other forms of writing and artwork that respond to questions about girl-led/young women-led ‘from the ground up’ approaches to policy-dialogue and policymaking, particularly in the context of gender-based violence and related areas of femicide, sexual assaults and rapes, early and unwanted pregnancy, access to child grants, forced and early marriages and so on. For more than a decade, researchers working in community-based research, especially using participatory visual and arts-based approaches such as digital storytelling, photovoice and participatory video and cellphilming, have been asking ‘so what’ questions, but particularly questions related to change through various forms of policy. Recognizing that the idea of policy change at a macro level typically calls for long term initiatives over time, and that policy change does not necessarily guarantee any type of real change ‘on the ground’ as can be seen in all too familiar ‘policy rich’ and ‘implementation poor’ contexts, we invite contributors to consider the vast range of possibilities for what policy making, policy dialogue and policy processes might mean, particularly in the context of those who are normally excluded from policy dialogue. In so doing we encourage contributors to weave in ideas of the critical in policy analysis and especially the processes of policymaking through the lens of addressing inequalities (Taylor, 1997), or possibilities for ‘changing methods’ (see Burt and Code, 1995) in relation to policy. Contributors should locate their work within critique of what counts as change. For some, the critique is about whether it is even possible for the work of young people to lead to policy change and hence questions are about ‘false promises and tokenism’. For others, the issues might be more about ‘what counts as dialogue’ or what counts as change and how do we understand the ‘messiness’ of policy dialogue and policy change? How could, for example, #MenAreTrash be included as aspects of dialogue about how men as a collective have been complicit in the anger and fear that has become an integral part of women’s and girl’s lived experience in South Africa? There may be others who, following the work of Ahmed (2017) and others on affect, look at the actual artwork produced (a mural, exhibition, memorial/monument) or even a march or demonstration or other form of public display as in and of itself the point in relation to potential for provoking policy dialogue. For example, how might the Annual Silent Protest at Rhodes University, Durban University of Technology and elsewhere, which provokes dialogue about unmuting sexual violence be included in a consideration of policy dialogue?

For still others, the questions might be more about activism itself, something not all researchers associate with policy dialogue and policy change but which, as Jessica Taft (2010) and others (e.g., Vanner, 2019) have highlighted may be a central ingredient of policy dialogue. We see this in relation to the increasing attention being paid to girls, young women and trans youth and activism at the global level in the work of Nobel Prize winners such as Nadia Nurad and Malala Yousafzai, and in the recent work of climate change activist Greta Thunberg. In her studies of girls’ activism in North and South America, Taft (2017) writes about girls seeing themselves as “becoming” rather than as activists, a perspective which she believes “enables valuable political flexibility and openness” (p.27). But we also can recognize this activist spirit in local young people such as Zee Ngcobo, a transgender girl who is doing pioneering work on the rights of girls and non-binary youth in a rural KwaZulu Natal community. Finally, we think of the many ‘so what?’ questions that see policy dialogue as only something that happens ‘out there’ and at an abstract level, often failing to see policy dialogue that is directly in front of us (in a classroom, in a rural community, in a local clinic and so on), or how policy itself can be framed within participatory processes and transformation as can be seen, at least in principle, in Canada’s Feminist International Agency Policy (see Starr & Mitchell, 2018).

These issues are key to deepening an understanding of girl-led and young women-led ‘from the ground up’ policy dialogue because they suggest that perhaps we need to look more closely and critically at where instances of policy-making and policy dialogue are already taking place or where they could take place outside the conventional arenas of dialogue. The inspiration for this issue of Agenda comes largely out of the work of the guest editors in co-leading the 6-year SSHRC and IDRC-funded project Networks for Change and Wellbeing: Girl-led ‘from the ground up’ Policymaking to Address Sexual Violence in Canada and South Africa.

As Mitchell and Moletsane (2018) highlight in their edited book based on that project Disrupting Shameful Legacies, arts-based methods and tools are central to the idea of ‘speaking back’. In her article ‘Stop the War on Women’s Bodies’: Facilitating a Girl-Led March Against Sexual Violence in a Rural Community in South Africa’, Moletsane (2018) takes this further to offer an ‘up close’ look at the impact of ‘girl-led’ policy dialogue in a rural community.

In this issue of Agenda, we invite contributors to engage critically, imaginatively or practically in relation to the idea of girl-led ‘from the ground up’ policy dialogue or policymaking. Recognizing the intersectional nature of work in the area of gender equality and sexual and gender-based violence, we invite contributors to identify in an explicit way, one or more specific policy issues and concerns that may have an impact on the lives of girls, young women, trans and other non-binary youth. We welcome submissions from author-teams that take up the significance of intergenerationality as a feature of scholarship in this area. Framed by a focus on work with, by and for girls and young women, we are inviting submissions that focus on one or more of the following:
 Case studies that focus on policy dialogue or policy change in local contexts
 Narratives of change from policymakers, participants (girls, young women and other youth), community leaders
 Tracking policy: what are the ways and processes of ‘from the ground up policymaking’ and implementation?
 Living policy: Life-stories or biographies of exhibitions or memorials or other forms of public art and material culture
 Girls’ Activism: How can we look at girl-led manifestos, ‘girlfestos’ and declarations in the context of policy dialogue?
 Scaffolding strategies initiated by adults to support girl-driven activism and policy dialogue
 Narratives of girls, young women, transgender and non-binary youth and how they locate themselves in the policy process
 Explorations of new tools and approaches that foster policy dialogue.

Ahmed, S. (2017). Living a Feminist Life. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Burt, S. & Code, L. (1995). Changing Method: Feminist Transformation in Practice. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Mitchell, C. and Moletsane, R. (Eds.). (2018). Disrupting Shameful Legacies: Girls and Young Women Speak Back Through the Arts to Address Sexual Violence. Rotterdam: Brill/Sense Publishers. Mitchell, C., & De Lange, N. (2015). Addressing sexual violence: Transforming violent cultures for and with girls and young women. Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, 29(3). Moletsane, R. (2018).‘Stop the War on Women’s Bodies’: Facilitating a Girl-Led March Against Sexual Violence in a Rural Community in South Africa. Studies in Social Justice, 12 (2), 235-250.
Starr, L., & Mitchell, C. (2018). How can Canada’s feminist international assistance policy support a feminist agenda in Africa? Challenges in addressing sexual violence in four agricultural colleges in Ethiopia. Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity. 1 12doi: 10.1080/10130950.2018.1427692
Taft, J.K (2017). Teenage girls’ narratives of becoming activists, Contemporary Social Science, 12 (1-2), 27-39, doi: 10.1080/21582041.2017.1324173
Taft, J.K. (2010). Rebel Girls: Youth Activism and Social Change Across the Americas. New York and London: New York University Press.
Taylor, S. (1997). Critical Policy Analysis: exploring contexts, texts and consequence. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education. 18(1), 23-35
Vanner, C (2019). Toward a Definition of Transnational Girlhood. Girlhood Studies, 12 (2), 115–132 DOI:

Submission Guidelines for Agenda Journal

The following guidelines are intended to assist authors in preparing their contributions.

Agenda invites contributions from feminist and gender scholars, activists, researchers, policymakers, professionals, educators, community workers, students and members of womxn’s organizations and organizations interested in and concerned with gender issues.

Submissions should contribute to developing new thinking and fresh debate on women’s rights and gender equality in Africa and other developing countries.

Writers need to:
 Write in an accessible and understandable style;
 Inform, educate or raise debate;
 Try to pin down reasons for contradictions and point out differences of opinion;
 Provide analysis and an argument;
 Be logical;
 Be sensitive to but not uncritical of how gender, class and race affect the reporting of an event;
 Ensure the introduction encapsulates the contents of the piece and that it attracts the reader’s attention by either making a controversial statement, providing a thought-provoking or new insight into the subject;
 Utilize a gender or feminist lens.

We publish articles in various formats, which range from 6,000 words for more theorized articles, which form the main reference pieces in an issue, to shorter pieces with a minimum of 1,500 words.

Formats of Contributions

 Article (6 000 words max) should be based on new research and contain analysis and argument.
 Briefing is an adaptable format for writers to write on a wide range of subjects (2 500 – 4 000 words)
 Focus examines an aspect of a chosen theme in detail (4 500 words max)
 Profile looks in detail at an organisation, project or legislation, or a person (2 500 – 3 500 words)
 Report-back covers reports on meetings, conferences workshops etc
 (1 500 – 4 000 words)
 Review typically reviews books or films (1 500 – 3 000 words)
 Interview can record a conversation among a group of people or a one-on-one interview in which the writer asks the interviewee/s questions on a subject (1 500 – 3 000 words)
 Open Forum is a vehicle for debate and argument, or pieces which deal with argument and difference of opinion on a subject/issue (2 500 – 4 000 words)
 Perspective is an adaptable format in which writers are able to use a more personal reflective, narrative style (1 500 – 3 000 words)

Contributions should be submitted in the following format:

File type: Microsoft Word
Font: Arial
Size: 10 pt
Line spacing: single
Justification: left
Referencing: Harvard style
All submissions should have the following:
Abstract: 200 – 300 words
Keywords: approx 5 keywords
Bio: 100 – word author biography, including email address
Bio picture: head-and-shoulders photo in 300 dpi jpeg format
Contributors are encouraged to provide photos and/or graphics to illustrate their submission

Selection and Editing Process

All submissions are peer-reviewed. Articles, briefing and focus pieces go through a double-blind peer-review process, while all other contributions are reviewed by at least one member of Agenda’s Editorial Advisory Group.

Reviewers comment on the suitability of a text for publication in the Agenda journal, as well as provide comments to help develop the piece further for publication if required.
Contributors will be asked to rework the paper accordingly. On resubmission, the piece will be assessed by the Agenda editor and a final decision made regarding its publication in the journal.

Please note that Agenda reserves the right to edit contributions with regard to length and accessibility or reject contributions that are not suitable or of poor standard.

Agenda also invites the submission of poems on the topic of women’s rights and gender. Please note, as per Agenda’s policy, writers who have published in the journal within the last two years WILL NOT BE ALLOWED to publish – to allow new writers to publish in Agenda.

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