mHealth initiative Fem launched an art competition, in June 2017, to give South African artists a chance to use their social voice to openly discuss and spread a positive message of support and respect towards women who have opted for an abortion.

Fem is an SMS platform that refers women to safe and legal abortion service providers in their area, quickly and privately. The user simply sends the trigger word ‘Fem’ to 30816 via SMS, and receive a referral SMS to a legal and safe health facility in their area.

Many local artists submitted their work, and on the 4th of September the winners and their work were announced. The winners, Lucky Vilakazi, Neo Mahlangu, Kagisho Mochoari, Mhlaba Moabi, Kabelo Sebako, Sinalo Ngcaba and Musa Sokhela from the Umuzi Academy were invited to see the real-life painting displayed on different walls throughout Gauteng.

“As a group, we took initiative to immerse ourselves into the requirements of the competition. We created a survey where 40 people participated (37 females, 3 males); we approached our colleagues and called Fem to thoroughly understand this often taboo issue,” said Neo Mahlangu, one of the winning artists.

“That is where the idea to create a campaign that speaks support, love, togetherness, and understanding through a wall was born. The wall mural will peak interest because it would be like peeking into a private conversation. It also reaffirms what Fem believes in, that you can receive help using your phone, and that is okay,” continued Mahlangu.

“The artwork produced by the students was smart, witty and free of judgment. It definitely deserved to win the competition. It is very inspiring to see the energy and the commitment of such young artists using their talent to make a difference in their communities,” said Fem.

“We must also thank everyone who took part in this challenge. Raising awareness about safe abortion in South Africa has just begun,” continued Fem.

The six walls where the artwork is being displayed are located on: Ben Naude Drive, Diepkloof, Soweto; Chris Hani Road, Pimville, Soweto; Soweto Highway, Diepkloof, Soweto; Tsamaya Avenue, Mamelodi, Pretoria/Tshwane; Maunde Street, Atteridgeville, Pretoria/Tshwane; and Brian Mazibuko Drive, Tembisa, eKurhuleni.

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