From January 2018, building on the work already accomplished, the Women’s Leadership and Training Programme (WLTP) will embark on a new phase, a 5 year journey to nurture the emergence of Authentic African Women for the 21st Century.
We invite you to join us.
WLTP has identified sixty young women with the potential to embody this archetypal woman who reclaims the essence of Africa as she defines and equips herself in accordance with Agenda 63 of the African Union. She renews the uBuntu philosophy and praxis in meeting and going beyond the UN Sustainable Development Goals and is enslaved by neither Eastern nor Western cultures and values.
Who are these young women?
The 60 young women have emerged from existing WLTP projects in Centocow and Hlokozi (rural communities) and KwaMashu “township” (urban high-density area in Durban) in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Many have participated since 2007 when they were pre-teen and teenage girls still at school. Their outstanding leadership potential is evident in the following: facilitation and organising skills, ethical and moral behaviour, ability to break boundaries, and in their ability to tackle community problems.
Why now? The Background and Rationale
The rural areas have an untapped wealth of good values, social coherence and life experiences. The streams and rivers, “arteries” of the soil, continue to support life, and the air is clean. A good quality of life for girls and women in rural areas would be possible, but for the stumbling blocks of patriarchal attitudes and practices, poor education, poor health, the lack of economic opportunities, environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity, and the threats to continued existence posed by Climate Change.
The majority of residents in the urban townships still regard the rural areas as “home,” and visit during the holidays, bringing skills which could be added to develop rural areas into highly desirable places to live. KwaMashu is a typical township in that respect. And WLTP has found that girls and boys (and some parents too) have a deep longing for the different values and opportunities that rural life can offer. Township girls and young women also face similar barriers to advancement as their rural sisters do.
As the result of a three year WLTP campaign, to end the dangerous cultural practices of ukuthwala (abduction for early marriage) and umhayizo (the bewitching of girls), many girls escaped this patriarchal violence and started to dream of enrolling at colleges and universities. A good number succeeded. Further work has resulted in self-confident, assertive girls with self-esteem, who value their natural beauty as part of their heritage. With further education and skills the young women will become effective leaders in their various spheres of influence. WLTP wishes to offer them opportunities to move onto a higher plane of leadership and influence.
What are we doing to create Authentic African Women?
The strategy is to create safe spaces for four self-sustainable teams of strong, skilled, spiritually-grounded young women. They will explore and specialise in four issues – feminism, climate change, biodiversity and entrepreneurship as well as analysing the related ethical and moral issues pertaining to girls and young women, by means of:
- Three residential workshops each year for 60 young women.
- The young women will run three residential workshops annually for 150 girls, organised in two age groups, (8-13) and (14-20).
- Two workshops each year with influential mothers and grandmothers of the girls, to enrol them as mentors of “Authentic African Women.”
In these workshops, the young women and older women will critique the patriarchal values and systems at all levels. They will draw from constructive, alternative values of feminism to discover and define the Authentic African Woman as a leader of communities. The young women will deepen the spirituality underpinning the 4 issues above, while also addressing leadership, fundraising, networking, advocacy, career guidance, information and communication technologies, indigenous knowledge, project management and other relevant topics as they arise.
The projects and additional work we expect to emerge from the workshops:
- By means of a multiplier effect, the 150 girls will reach 300 new girls and eventually 4 500 girls.
- Citizen Science will be applied to the mapping of birds and other species of fauna and flora leading to species conservation (WLTP is already involved in such a Southern Ground Hornbill project), the restoration of grasslands and forests in Hlokozi, the rehabilitation of dongas (land degradation ) in Centocow and the custodianship of streams and wetlands in KwaMashu.
- Women bird guides initiate a successful Bird Watching business.
- Certified Agroecology (AE) farmers in cooperatives, do food processing and train other women and girls in AE.
- Tree nurseries supply both fruit and indigenous trees for homes and reforestation.
- Water protection and Recycled Waste Initiatives.
- Solar Energy Businesses.
- Publications and social media on topics related to the four main issues above.
- Partnerships with tertiary institutions to mentor student interns and researchers.
- Partnerships with other organizations to complement and strengthen the work. WLTP’s ongoing partnership with Inhlabamkhosi Young Men’s Project has already changed the patriarchal behaviour of some boys and young men.
- Training of girls and women who live in other areas.