Playing our part for the empowerment of young people, and the future of our country

Written by Zandile Nkompela, Cape Town Girl Impact Coordinator

Girl Impact programme focuses on empowering young people in and around Cape Town. As the newly appointed Project Development Coordinator, this is something I am passionate about. The passion was ignited in my youth with my involvement with developmental human rights organisations. This is where I cut my teeth into gender and development sphere, where I got to see with my gender spectacles. It seems so surreal as I remember some of the sessions where I expressed some of the oppressive terminology used knowingly or unknowingly by adults whilst growing up. Any hope of being bold enough to live the life that one was meant to was shattered by all those negative messages intentional or unintentional, alas; it’s all said and done.

The latter is important to mention as I would like to raise awareness with this article to the mamas, child minders out there who are supposed to protect and build a positive mind set for the young minds.  A young mind is like a blank canvass waiting on an artist to create master piece to be show cased in the world’s galleries. There are two things that could happen to the canvass, we can get a master piece or is spoiled.

In my era of growing up as a dark skinned child was looked down upon and for a girl child to be bold was shunned upon. No one dared wanted to be bold because you will be labelled FORWARD and that was definitely not a good thing. So those of us who believed a lot of that garbage hid sheepishly into our own little caves. Some of us were lucky enough in life to have bold grandmothers to look up to and emulate. Also access to the organisations that could de-mystify all those myths was a bonus. The latter assisted in a process of restoration and finding the power within.

However, some of us who were not so lucky, carried those negative messages and leading lives with low self-esteem and finding themselves in abusive relationships and other less unfortunate situations. So adults do guard your tongue when speaking to young people and speak positive words to build and unleash the potential in young people.

What the Girl Impact program seeks to achieve, is to empower and educate young people, boys and girls in under developed communities. The program covers issues which today’s young people are challenged with. The issues include safety; self-confidence; access to education; health; making a living and early pregnancy.

The Girl Impact program believes in the holistic empowering of young people. Thus it is imperative that the boys and young men are part of the programme. It is shocking to learn of the stereo-types still embedded in some of the young women and men that we work with in the programme. For us this can only mean that the need for gender and development still remains.

South Africa is currently facing a crisis of gender based violence and no one is going to tackle this challenge besides us, the people who live in South Africa. There is definitely a need to empower women to protect themselves. There is also a need to conscientise boys and young men about the effects of gender based violence. Gender Development and Empowerment is certainly far from over, Girl Impact, has a major role to play in our disadvantaged communities. We all, by that I mean, in the home, teachers, churches, organisations and government, we all need to play our part for the empowerment of our young people, the future of our country.

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