Girl power comes to the township

Some of the girls who are part of the Intelligent Young Women Project.

Two young women from Khayelitsha have taken upon themselves the daunting task of empowering townships girls with lessons about self-love and respect.

Co-founder of the Intelligent Young Women Project, Linda Mbali said the project tackled issues facing girls in the townships.

It hopes to create a platform for girls to interact with one another and find ways to deal with their challenges.

The 24-year-old first-year student at Northlink College said the aim was to promote unity, love and respect among girls and to build strong relationships and a sense of sisterhood.

The project hosts workshops and discussions about topics relevant to different stages of the girl’s lives.

Ms Mbali said they would invite female guest speakers or graduates to drive those discussions.

The project works with children between the ages of 15 and 18 years and it advises them on career choices.

Ms Mbali said she believed there was still more that needed to be done to guide young girls in the right direction.

Talking about her childhood, she said she had been bullied at school and because of her light skin complexion she had been ridiculed and made to believe she was ugly.

As a result, she said, she had lost confidence in herself and never thought she had the ability to make it in life.

She said she had made a pact with herself that when she was a grown up she would create a platform for girls to embrace who they are and not let their peers look down on them.

“Girls are the most vulnerable people in society, and it is crucial that we get them together to build each other up. We as young people need to uplift one another and this project only caters for girls.

“And every week we would have a female guest speaker who has made it in life or still studying to share her experience with the girls and advise them,” she said.

Sive Bobi, 18, said she was excited to be part of the organisation and described the initiative as a bold step toward re-shaping the lives of township girls.

She explained that poverty and other social ills had propelled young girls to date “sugar daddies” in pursuit of making ends meet.

“This is the opportunity that we need to grab with both hands and make use of it. I urge other girls to join the programme as it truly speaks to us and it is driven by young people,” she said.

Another co-founder of the organisation Bongeka Qhanga, 25, a UCT graduate, said this was a way of giving back to the community of Khayelitsha.

She said they should not wait for other people to plough back to their community, but rather do it themselves. “We should be role models of our sisters. We don’t need to be celebrities in order to change our communities. I call upon business people to support us in whatever they can to take this movement far,” she said.