Empowering girls to lead

Posted on August 28, 2020

Girls for Girls (G4G), an international mentoring programme, recently launched a chapter at UP. Dr Matete Madiba, Director of the Department of Student Affairs and G4G project leader at UP, tells us more.

Mentoring programme Girls for Girls (G4G) came about when a group of graduate students from the Harvard Kennedy School in Massachusetts recognised that all over the world something was holding women back from running for public office and taking action to change their circumstances.

They decided that by mobilising other women they could close the gender gap. G4G aims to give young women access to mentorship and equip them with the vision and skills they need to take up public leadership positions and play a greater role in public service. Founded in 2017, the programme has established chapters in several African countries, and in 2019, G4G was introduced to UP.

“Arrangements to host the programme were finalised in March this year,” says Dr Matete Madiba, Director of the Department of Student Affairs and G4G project leader at UP. “At that stage, 380 girls had signed up for the programme. Due to the national lockdown, the contact sessions had to be postponed to a later date and eventually the sessions were delivered online.”

Dr Madiba explains that the G4G programme gives young women access to mentorship through a local mentorship circle, a repository of skill-based tools and access to a global network. She added that the programme has three pillars: mentorship circles; inspiration and learning; and networking. Women who have advanced in their profession in various fields are recruited as mentors and trained in order to contribute to the growth of the mentees.

Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe welcomed the mentees at the first session, which commenced on 15 August, with 94 of the 100 girls available to participate online. The programme will run until 3 October. Prof Kupe said G4G forms part of the University’s mission to empower women in its community.

“UP is committed to developing and enriching the talent of women and ensuring that, among others, the gender gap in leadership is closed,” he said in the video recording. “We have a responsibility to transform the lives of women and to make a meaningful contribution towards equity and equality for all. Women have a special role to play in taking this country and the continent to the next level, and towards building the Africa we want. At the University of Pretoria, we are doing our part in making sure that we see these positive changes become a reality as quickly as possible. This is the reason we embrace a programme of this nature.”

Dr Madiba says the programme focuses on six themes that make up the sessions: building trust; courageous leadership; the art of communication; negotiation (advocating for yourself and others); public service and running for office; and ethics and values.  

Priscilla Malaza, G4G project coordinator at UP, says the programme will benefit young women by giving them the tools to build successful careers, among other things, through the six sessions. “We targeted second-, third-, fourth-year and postgraduate female students from across the University,” she says. “The programme will add to the preparation for successful career building, and will prepare the young women to take up leadership positions in the future.”

According to Dr Madiba, the G4G project is being run at other institutions in South Africa and in other African countries like Uganda, Kenya and Zimbabwe. “The programme is intense and rewarding,” she says. “The vision is to impact as many young women as possible and widen their networks at an international level.”

In the first online session, Prof Kupe added: “You are the first cohort, and as such trailblazers of the UP G4G chapter. Enjoy every part of this mentorship journey and remember that you have us, the University, cheering all the way.”




- Author Masego Panyane

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