BY TITLAYO DZABALA, YWCA OF MALAWI AND INUNONSE NGWENYA, YWCA OF ZAMBIA.
Titlayo and Inunonse recently attended the Adolescent Girl’s Empowerment Program Training workshop – Zambia November 2013. The training was run by the Population Council and had 24 participants from 11 YWCA’s from around the world.
The Zambian experience brought joy, happiness and new challenges to us as young women leaders of the movement. It gave us a bigger picture of what young women and girls go through around the world hence reminding us that as leaders we need to address issues affecting our interests.
The meeting of women from Argentina, Myanmar, US Virgin Island, Belize, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Benin, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia in Lusaka was a clash of cultures who’s greatest effect was the growth of friendships all over the world. We learned so much from this great opportunity about cultures, with presentations of such diversity from music from Tanzania to funeral rites in Myanmar a burial.
The best competition we can ever get into is to compete with ourselves. Let us learn to beat our own records and things will keep on improving in our lives. One question we should ask ourselves is how much we utilize ourselves in order to bring out productivity in our lives.
Leadership means you have people who follow you in your community, office and work place and you must know that you have managers around you who may know how to do the business of your formation or origination.
A person with leadership style is a true leader who inspires his or her team with a shared vision and goals for the future. Transformational leaders are highly visible, and spend more time communicating. They don’t necessarily lead from the front as they tend to delegate responsibilities amongst their teams.
For young girls and women, one place leadership can and is fostered is in “A Safe Space”. The provision of a safe space is by no means a declaration of weakness. It is the provision of a tool of power…..the ashes from where the phoenix that is woman rises. Safe spaces are the foundation from where young girls are given tools to make something of themselves. Accessing safe spaces at the right time is imperative to reach this goal. When we teach our young girls when they are forming themselves, what we teach them becomes a part of who they are. They become financially responsible, socially active and aware, empowered and most importantly, they become happy.
We personally want to see safe spaces all over the world; personally we want the world to become a safe space. Our first step towards this is establishing one safe space in a community. Establishing the concept of the importance of a safe space with the people that have the power to let this happen. When these mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, leaders see that girls at their formative years need the extra attention and support that the safe spaces provide they will see the massive opportunity this presents to develop their communities and their lives. Through these safe spaces awareness rising takes place at a very early stage and age so that we prepare these girls and women to become responsible citizens of our societies and make it a better place for them and generations to come.
The objective of the meeting in Zambia was to learn the importance of identifying the right girls at the right time using an evidence based approach. We ended up learning so much more…the similarities and differences in what girls all over the world experience; what difference the work intergenerational women can make in the lives of young girls and finally what kind of difference a safe space can make in improving the lives of young girls.
We came to know that as young leaders of the YWCA movement our role and aim is to work together to shape a better tomorrow. People will have no incentive to change their life style towards sustainability unless they are first made aware of their own problems which exist, their own role in perpetuating these problems, and their potential contribution to the solutions. We have existing environmental processes that help individuals to:
- Acknowledge the existing environmental problems and recognize their role in them.
- Understand the links between their everyday actions and the lives of other people.
- Identify positive actions they can take.
And so in conclusion of this tale of feminine power:
I am not my skin;
Nor am I my sex.
I am a girl, I am a woman.
My thoughts, my feelings and
My needs deserve a space to be heard.
Listen to me, build me, mould me,
Enable me, and
You will be surprised what I can do.
Don’t be surprised by the path I chart
For myself, but guide me and let me fly.