Under the motto “#We Are Sister’s Keepers”, a group of community leaders and concerned citizens made a call on young girls to step up a gear in the fight against all forms of violence against them by moving beyond just awareness.
Instead, they were told to build knowledge, skills and resources.
On Friday September 1, Democratic Alliance Ward 90 councillor Nondumiso Mvinjelwa worked NGOs Activist Education and Development Centre (AEDC) and Keready Health Clinic to give support to young women and girls in Site B, Khayelitsha, and to empower them.
Ms Mvinjelwa said when young women experience violence, their choices and opportunities are limited. She said she was worried that violence against young women and drug abuse seemed to be prevalent days. She said that she felt a need to bring together young women because she was concerned that they had lost their way of life.
“I have to be straight forward and say drugs in girls is something new and something we have to face. That breaks my heart. I am the product of Khayelitsha. Khayelitsha shaped me. That is why I am so passionate about it. I grew up here, in a shack. But I told myself that the shack will not define my way. I will be what I want to be,” she said.
She condemned violence against women. She said she still has flashbacks of September 2019 when her sister was killed by her husband. She said the ongoing gender-based violence pandemic is having a serious impact on girls and young women.
“It is time for women to fill the spaces. They should not wait for men to do things for them. Even if one is not married it’s fine. If they are relying on men, they will be left frustrated. We are here to talk to them and empower them. That is why we have these NGOs to talk sense to them. In essence, we are here to talk about girls’ issues like family planning, violence against them and HIV testing. But mostly to advise each other about life and future,” she said.
She added that empowerment through skills and education of young women would prevent them being trapped in forms of slavery like marriages.
Tantaswa Ndlelana, AEDC took the stage to support the idea of empowering young women. She said women need to strengthen ties among themselves.
The activist, who fought for the provision of Antiretrovirals (ARVs) while with the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) warned young women about alcoholic drinks getting spiked at nightspots. Women are drugged this way and raped.
“They need to protect themselves. While that happened, we would be asking questions like, what was she wearing, what time? The sad part is that such questions will be asked by a woman. We ought to protect each other. Rape should not happen even if one is wearing a revealing thing,” she said.
She said men do some of these things because of their masculinity. She appealed to all to stand up against gender-based violence and the killing of women.
The young women were also helped to register to vote, test for high blood pressure, diabetes and HIV, told about family planning and Covid vaccinations.