By The Love Trust
Johannesburg, 06 October 2020: Gender inequality, across the globe, is still raging rampant throughout all sectors of our society with the disparity made even more stark during the Covid-19 lockdowns. But, the fight for equality presses on. To acknowledge the efforts of young girls who ‘assert their power as change-makers’ we’re joining the call by recognising the International Day of the Girl 2020 on 11 October. As the UN explains, the day focuses on the demands of adolescent girls to:
- Live free from gender-based violence, harmful practices, and HIV and AIDS
- Learn new skills towards the futures they choose
- Lead as a generation of activists accelerating social change
In honour of one such young leader, we spoke to the Head Girl of Nokuphila Primary School in Thembisa, Buhle Precious Ngwenya, about her experience as a girl in school, what inspires her and her goals for the future.
Ngwenya is a freshly minted teenager and loves singing, reading and is always eager to help and take on a leadership role whenever required. She prides herself in being Head Girl as it allows her to help her fellow learners and develop her leadership skills through problem-solving. All of which contribute to boosting this young leader’s confidence which will be extremely important when facing the many challenges ahead as she prepares for the next phase of her educational career, high school. Seeing the trauma that some of her classmates have gone through due to the situations at home, compounded due to the lockdown, has fuelled her drive to become a doctor and help others. This desire to help others underlines many of her motivations as a student and leader and is a major part of the Nokuphila ethos.
But how do we empower our young girls to be the women that will take on the gender inequality fight and win? We spoke to a teacher in training, Gundo Victoria Matamela, at Nokuphila Primary School on her perspective as a teacher and role model for girls in her classes.
Matamela believes that because children spend most of their day at school, teachers play a huge role in their student’s lives and, by extension, the local community. The way teachers, therefore, educate them and teach them to be good citizens is vital. “I’ve loved the experience of being part of Nokuphila,” says Matamela, “because good citizenship means being Christ centred and that’s what the kids have been taught – i.e. to be Christ centred not only at school but at home and the community at large that they interact with as well.”
When asked what she believes could be done to encourage girls to take an interest in subjects like maths and science to pursue a career in typically male-dominated fields she suggested a hashtag campaign as well as a club.
Matamela elaborates that the school could facilitate a monthly or bi-monthly “meet up like a club to empower girls on being the best version of themselves. I’m very passionate about the fact that we’re not trying to say girls are better than boys, but rather we’re trying to be the best that we are so that the world can recognise us for this, not because we are better than someone else. So, depending on what particular topic will be covered during the meet up we can find sponsors and people to come and speak. Having female professionals who are in the fields that are, presumably, male-dominated come and speak to the kids would be more inspiring than just having a teacher.”
When asked who her role model was, Ngwenya chose her mother whom she describes as being, “as firm as a tree: that even though it’s windy it won’t fall over. This means that when my mother faces challenges, she doesn’t give up.” In closing, Ngwenya wanted to leave the following words for girls in classrooms across South Africa: “Don’t take pride in the things you have, but rather take pride in being yourselves. Take on challenges and have a mindset of a leader.”