Dela Gwala, Gender Violence Activist and Feminist:
Gwala, 26, describes herself as a cross between a researcher-storyteller and a writer-activist. As a rape survivor, writer and feminist, Gwala uses words as both a weapon and a salve.
She offers insight into sexual violence while finding peace in the words of other survivors. In 2012, the South African Association of Political Studies awarded her the “Best Undergraduate Essay in South Africa”, and she still uses this
talent to contribute to the Rape Crisis blog.
Gwala was the facilitator for the Young Women’s Leadership Project at UCT’s African Gender Institute. She is currently a media spokesperson on gender issues, when she’s not working towards her Master’s in Creative Writing at UCT.
Although she loves and hates the challenging dialogue she’s forced to have with herself through her writing, she is dedicated to her research into gender-based violence.
She uses her pen to expose what she calls “institutional silencing,” while also offering a safe place for rape survivors to open up and share their stories.
It’s a balancing act, caring for yourself and helping heal others, but Gwala draws strength from her heroes. Many of them are strong female memoirists who have chosen to face life with honesty, openness, courage and humility.
“I live by Rudi Francisco’s words: “I’m still learning to love the parts of me that no one claps for.””