Creating leaders and role models for the girls of tomorrow that will bridge the gender gap

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
Buhle Precious Ngwenya

A future trailblazer in the making

In honour of one such young leader, Head Girl of Nokuphila Primary School, Buhle Precious Ngwenya, shares her experience as a girl in school, what inspires her and her goals for the future.

Buhle 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.

Leading by example

Gundo Victoria MatamelaBut how do we empower our young girls to be the women that will take on the gender inequality fight and win? Gundo Victoria Matamela, from Nokuphila Primary School speaks about her perspective as a student teacher and role model for girls in her classes.

Gundo believes that because children spend most of their day at school, teachers play a huge role in their students’ lives and, by extension, the local community. The way teachers, therefore, educate them and teach them to be good citizens is vital. Gundo has loved the experience of being part of Nokuphila. Good citizenship means being Christ centred and that’s what the kids have been taught – to be Christ centred not only at school but at home and the community at large that they interact with as well.

Gundo believes that to encourage girls to take an interest in subjects like maths and science and to pursue a career in typically male-dominated fields, hashtag campaigns is one idea she has.  Another is to facilitate a monthly or bi-monthly meet up to empower girls on being the best version of themselves. It’s not about saying that girls are better than boys, but rather that girls are trying to be the best that they are so that the world can recognise them for that. So, depending on what topic will be covered during the meet up, Gundo’s vision is to 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 girls would be more inspiring than just having a teacher tell them about these possibilities.

Sharing words of wisdom

Buhle’s role model is 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 her mother faces challenges, she doesn’t give up. Buhle wise words for girls in classrooms across South Africa are: “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.”