By Paul Mabote
(Writer, Poet, Creative, Learner, Observer)
Paul Mabote is a member of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Network.
August is set aside as a month to appreciate and celebrate women, for the selfless acts of love and the sacrifices they make each day to make the world a better place. This article looks at women Activators who are empowered to empower other women in their communities through their work as active citizens. Sebenza girl, Sebenza!
A Guiding Hand
Activator Mphuthi Thato heads a group for young women called Young Urban Women Active Citizens, which she is the president of. The organization is based in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, at a child and youth development center called Afika Tikkun.
Mphuthi says “Young Urban Women (YUW) is an advocacy group addressing unjust systems which negatively affect and impact young women’s lives. YUW was formed in 2014 by Ma’am Nehwoh Belinda in Diepsloot, with the aim to empower young women and assist them in finding their voices, by creating a safe space for them to talk about all issues affecting them. Some of the topics we focus on are sexual and reproductive health rights, inclusivity, decent work, economic justice, self-care, addressing gender based violence and so on.”
Question: How many women has your organization been able to assist so far, and how?
Mputhi: “We have impacted the lives of around 150 women this year alone, our assistance ranging from psychosocial support, employment opportunities, gender sensitization, sexual harassment training and also offering educational support.”
Together we can
Mputhi says that as YUW, they have collaborated with several stakeholders, uncluding Wits RHI, Sisterlove International, Qrate, Total Shutdown Movement, Action Breaks Silence, Rainbow Alliance Activist and Action Aid South Africa. She says that they hope to have YUW in every community even outside the Afrika Tikkun Centres. This to ensure that young women are equipped and capacitated on how to occupy spaces of policy making, ensuring that they are clear and fully comprehending what it means to be empowered and lastly, they hope to achieve a goal where particularly young women’s voices are heard.
Necessity is the mother of all invention
Smangele Zwane is another Activator who is shining the bright light down the path of empowerment for the women in her community. She is part of the leadership of an NPO called Feminine Forum which is based in Kwa-Thema, Gauteng.
Smangele says “Feminine forum was founded in May 2017 by ladies who were discussing issues that they came across in everyday life. Things like feminine freedom, dependency, lack of self-esteem and youth empathy. It became our vision to see women becoming empowered, independent and appreciating their self-value. Although it is not only women who benefit from the organisation, they are our first priority and then the youth.”
Question: What does your organization do?
Smangele: “We attend events, conferences, workshops and trainings as part of our research and development. And we organise various events and workshops depending on what we have identified as an issue at that particular moment.”
Our Sisters who art on earth
Zwane says that they have recently launched the arts-desk #Feminine_Forum_in_arts where they connect with schools and different organisations to do awareness campaigns with the aim to:
- Develop artists from the grassroots level as they have always had a struggle in identifying female fine arts artists to connect and engage with.
- Promote women empowerment and psychological awareness through arts and craft, especially in the most vulnerable and informal settlements.
- Prevent women and children from being victims of gender based violence by engaging with social workers and form arts and craft support groups.
- To conduct skills development and job placement programs through workshops and seminars for youth.
Mputhi Thato and Smangele Zwane are two strong young women who are setting a good example in their communities and beyond. We would like to let you know that your selfless work does not go unnoticed. You are heroines, and you are appreciated!