Why do we look at one another and see only the differences? Why do we think it’s fair for that to dictate how we behave towards each other? The concept of ‘equality’ is not a new one, it is used in just about any way you can think of: for fairer communities, for justice, for balanced representation and portrayal, and even for impartial economic and social standings.
Whatsmore, we judge and get judged by others for things outside of our control, and when that judgment affects our perception of one another it leads to rigid mindsets of ‘men above women’, ‘rich above the poor, and similar divides in our communities.
These divides can often be dangerous for both individuals and society.
A new media startup, Lighthouse, is raising important questions on inequality through the power of storytelling. Lighthouse is a non-profit media organization that seeks to provide a platform for narratives to grow.
Their global community of authors, artists and filmmakers all work towards the goal of promoting inclusivity through storytelling.
Through these stories, Lighthouse aims to create diverse, intercultural perspectives which connect the dots across global boundaries.
The Melton Foundation, a 501-3C non-profit, is the parent organization of Lighthouse, promoting change in global communities.
Lighthouse founder Ashitha Nayak began the organization in 2020 with a vision to share intercultural stories and bring the world closer together.
On her journey, she has unified over 100 storytellers from more than 20 countries via storytelling campaigns, workshops, and other media projects that provide a platform to amplify the world’s most pressing issues via ‘regional chapters’: Pan-Africa, South Asia and Espanol (Chile and surrounding regions), with plans underway to open a branch in the US.
Today, we take you through Lighthouse’s newest campaign: A storytelling campaign around justice, liberty, and equality in Africa.
The team shares, “In our own communities, the Lighthouse team was observing these unfortunate barriers grow. It was not a surprise, then, that the issue of inequalities was raised and became the focus of the next storytelling project. With our staff hailing from the African subcontinent all the way to South Asia and beyond, the Lighthouse team had our own understanding of inequality in our society.
Yet at the core of it, we realized that every protest, every activism movement was just regular people trying to be acknowledged as equal to one another; asking for a simple human right to be given the same opportunities, same values, and importance.
Equality is still a working goal in today’s world. The extent of which has spread through our daily lives so thoroughly, at work, at home, in our social circles, that extracting and rising above it seemed unattainable as we worked on this project.
We all have faced discrimination, or known someone who has, and yet the conversation has remained in the same loop: ‘they weren’t going to hire someone like me’, ‘I don’t think you should hang out with that group’, ‘they are not like us’. Is keeping an open mind or granting better opportunities for all really difficult? Some would say it is because as humans, we are just selfish and do not want others to succeed over us, or that it is impossible to provide unbiased or impartial outlooks about all things.
Reflecting on the universal aspect of equality, we were uncertain about how to best present it to its full credit.
This was when we thoroughly brainstormed the project and sought help from our collaborators at the Melton Foundation to take our idea forward, combining research and experience with the media formats at our disposal. We found it fitting to decide on the narratives being from the voices of our generation.
‘Equality for All’ became our attempt to shift the perspective by handing the reins over to the rising youth of the African subcontinent and utilizing their creativity to shape unique stories.
Without any limits on discussion, we set out to find creatives willing to share their words with our audiences. From podcasts with social workers and students to interactive events on the theme of equality, we wanted to emphasize this message to young, everyday citizens: the fight for equality must continue.
The enthusiasm we have seen from each of our contributors and the audience so far is further proof that hope for change still lives.
Watching how the creative work inspires our fellow generation to keep raising their voices is something we looked forward to as it has given us new motivation.
The final preparations were a challenge up till the end. While there was overwhelming support for a campaign with the premise of ‘equality for all’, there were also issues of availability and commitment for the collection of stories.
It was because of the initiative by our dedicated team that the project saw through on its launch. Whether it was through stories on gender biases by Vivian Kagwaria, the audio narratives of social equality curated by Raymond Kigai or the Twitter Space talks on economic inequality with Patrick Mbugua, we showcased an aspect each believed would best break down the vastness of the topic.
This way, we managed to get a conversion brewing on both awareness and solutions for incorporating equal spaces. It also meant that team members themselves were getting a chance to explore and share their experiences with a global audience.
To amplify equality is to amplify unity, justice and freedom. That is what we want to stand for as part of this campaign; one that celebrates building a connected, diverse environment instead of dictating the differences between us.
Narratives have the power to shape change for a fairer world, and as such ‘Equality For All’ should be that common goal to strive towards.
As the team behind this campaign, Lighthouse intends to continue advocating and raising awareness for such social impact topics.
“Since our childhood, we’ve heard about ‘Equality of Opportunity’ as a must-have for global communities to thrive. But what happens when that equality is not a given, as a function of where we are born, our background, race, or gender? Or any other factor that is beyond our control?
“Equality is not only a fundamental human right, but also is a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
“With our campaign, we travel across the majestic African subcontinent – one story at a time, we unravel the dire realities of socio-economic, gender, political, social, and other forms of inequality in the lives of the everyday people of Africa.
Those of us at Lighthouse might not be experts on the matter, but we are allies in this movement, and we want to add our voice to the larger conversation around improving access and leveling the playing field across the globe,” explains Ashitha, 26.
You can find more about Lighthouse and her campaigns here: https://www.lighthousestories.org