Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to influence, teach, and inspire. It forges connections among people, and between people and ideas. When it comes to our values, our communities, and our institutions, we understand intuitively that the stories we hold in common are an integral part of the ties that bind us.
This understanding also holds true in the development world, where real stories, shared by diverse groups of survivors, help solidify empathy in a way that factual statements encapsulated in bullet points or numbers fail to.
Swayong stories strive to create a sense of connection. They build familiarity and trust, and allow outsiders to enter the story, making them more open to learning. And stories are more engaging than a dry recitation of data points or a discussion of abstract ideas.
স্বয়ং - Swayong aims to dismantle social injustices through one story at a time. We want to create safe, inclusive, and constructive spaces for conversation and growth. Our content will encourage people to interact meaningfully with sensitive topics, breaking down inhibitions about ‘shameful’ issues.
Power of the Collective
We build and catalyze movements that collectively make us stronger. We strive to ensure that women and gender diverse groups have the systemic support to achieve equality.
Highlighting stories of women and other under-represented people are essential to compelling sustainable change. They must be part of the discourse and have active roles in making decisions and designing solutions.
We seek to evoke real and significant changes to transform regressive social norms, mindsets, and stereotypes with tenacity, empathy, and action.
We support our people by providing them with the information, solidarity, and power they need to help them raise their individual voices.
MEET THE TEAM
Message from the Founder
Imagine a little girl who felt quite different from her friends around her; she was loud, she lived her life in her own terms and questioned everything. She had a difficult time relating her own thoughts and behaviour to actions and people around her. Media did not show women like her, movies failed to portray her, books lacked characters like her, and nobody talked positively about women like her. In her own life, she had struggles, achievements, success, failures, and moments filled with laughter that she struggled to share with people or relate to in a collective manner.
She grows up with a void in her life, where she constantly tries to be like others to be relatable or to stay relevant.
As she grows older, she realizes that there are many more women like her; women who do not take bullshit, women who fight back, women who ask questions, women who are ambitious, women who are kind, women who are powerful, and women who are absolutely unapologetically themselves. These women live in her house, work with her, study with her, laugh with her, cry with her, and empower her. Having conversations with these women, working with them, and seeing them live their lives have ignited a warmth in her soul which may somewhat fill the void that she grew up with.
But was it enough? Was knowing such women enough for her to be content?
The answer is no.
She realized there is a gap, a gap which gets bigger every time a woman decides to not talk about herself, when a woman is unsuccessful when she tries to find stories about other women like her, and when she does not have a space to share her stories.
Thus, Swayong happened. Where we, as a collective, dismantle social injustices through one story at a time. Story of women, women like you and me.
Message from the Co-Founder
Kazi Mitul Mahmud
During my journey of working in the development sector, I have become increasingly aware of the power of stories. I realized that our lack of collective understanding can largely be attributed to the lack of exposure into the lives of survivors and victims. Stories add a personal element to the discourse that numbers and data can hardly encapsulate.
During last year’s lockdown, as we witnessed the struggles of women in our own home, while hearing about the worsening situation of domestic violence worldwide, Swatil proposed the idea of creating a platform for people to share their real stories. We had already spent years talking about how the kind of women we know are nowhere to be seen on mainstream media. Thus, over one night of impassioned brainstorming, we created Swayong.
The first step to solving a problem is to acknowledge that there is one. Stories help us achieve just that; it gets the word out, or starts a conversation. Stories are the threads that connect us as individuals to form a community. Swayong is my way of telling the world that discrete stories have the power to catalyze collective movements. I urge and welcome everyone who cares about equity and justice to join our fight.