The Purposeful Activist Scholar Award (PASA) is geared towards supporting those who are already contributing significantly within the field of arts or scholarly activism, allowing a feminist leader from the Global South to deepen a focus on adolescent girls and the power of girlhood along with the opportunities and possibilities that arise as a result of girl-led organising, through both financial and other support provided by Purposeful.
The PASA will provide $50,000 in unrestricted funding over a 12-month period to individual activist scholars, separating it from conventional forms of funding allocation, and allowing the recipient the freedom to develop and express their own writings away from the burdens of institutional fundraising and commercial income. The decision to award funding in this manner has been designed to challenge the status quo of how money can be moved or awarded within the philanthropic sector, highlighting that traditional methods of funding need not be the only way.
The recipient of the PASA will work collaboratively with Purposeful to design a series of engagements with grantees and other allies within the Purposeful network in order to prioritise substantive dialogue between the scholar and adolescent girl activists, ensuring their voices are centred in the work that is being produced through the award.
Recently, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, an African activist and writer was announced as the first recipient of the Purposeful Activist Scholar Award. A feminist leader who is unafraid to broach topics which have otherwise been regarded as taboo both in Africa and further afield, Sekyiamah is known for her recent book The Sex Lives of African Women, as well as being the co-founder of the blog Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women, created in 2009.
At the Girl’s Summit in 2022, which hosted 51 girls from over 15 African countries in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Sekyiamah facilitated a number of workshops, creating a safe and supporting space for the attendees to freely and openly ask questions about sex, pleasure and their bodies, additionally reflecting on their power and beauty. Sekyiamah’s experiences and stories which she shared had a profound effect not just on the girls attending the summit, but also the Purposeful team, a reflection of the potential that her work possesses to inspire women and girls alike to expand their radical imaginations and allow themselves to dream, heal, contribute to shifting cultural conversations, mobilise and to document the stories of others like them on the continent who are so often ignored.
Purposeful is a movement-building hub for girls and their allies, rooted in Africa and working all over the world. It works to build the power of girls and their allies so that they can access the resources, networks and platforms they need to power their activism and remake the world for themselves. Since 2015, Purposeful has made over 500 grants to girls and young feminist activists across more than 110 countries.
Simon Hungin is a freelance writer that supports Alliance magazine.