Feature Story

IGNITING THE POTENTIAL OF ADOLESCENT GIRLS

11 November 2016
Ms Segotso with a group of 10 year-olds who participated at the dialogue

“… I want to own a physiotherapist clinic and a mentorship school …” , “…my dream is to join Victoria Secret Models in America…”, “…I want to become a woman rights activist ….  i will use my powerful voice to change the world…”,  “… I believe determination, perseverance and being passionate about what you want will bring you success…”. These were sentiments raised by a panel of adolescent girls during the intergenerational dialogue organized by UNFPA for girls aged 10-19 years with women achievers. In line with the theme of the 2016 State of the World Population Report, “10: How our common future depends on a girl at this decisive age”, UNFPA hosted the dialogue to accord adolescent girls a rare opportunity to engage and learn from one of the women who has paved a success path. Ms Oabona Bonnie Kamona, the Miss Botswana 2016 1st Princess, provided an inspirational talk to the girls and said that determination and knowing what she wants got her to where she is today. She said girls should learn to make things happen for themselves, they should learn to multitask and strive for success. She advised girls to “either you do it with your all or you don’t do it at all!”

For her part, the UNFPA Assistant Representative Ms Mareledi Segotso indicated that the day is meant to “bridge the gap between these young girls and the women who have made it in life” highlighting that adolescent girls face many challenges yet they have great potential. She said that the new development agenda, endorsed by world leaders in 2015, aims for equitable development that leaves no one behind and investing in the health, education and empowerment of the 10-year-old girl today will increase the chances of harnessing the demographic dividend.

Some of the adolescent girls with 2016 Miss Botswana 1st Princess, Bonnie Kamona

Dr Mpho Gilika, director for The African Women in Leadership Academy (TAWLA), described mentoring as coaching, devel

oping and sharing knowledge. She indicated that mentoring has benefits to the mentor and mentee as mentorship establishes positive relationship with different people and it also improves self-esteem, sharpen communication skills and in turn they relate well with others.

Ten year old Zandile Munamati from Ben-Thema Primary School gave her aspiration of becoming a doctor. She noted that challenges that young girls face include teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and HIV/ AIDS but her wish is that “every disease can be healed in our country”.

Olorato Paseko (14) from Maoka Junior Secondary School said girls are faced with many challenges such as gender based violence, child marriages, and intergenerational relationships and in turn end up with sexually transmitted infections. She wants to own a mentorship school so that she can be a role model to other girls to get them motivated and be empowered. Tlotlo Mbewe (18) from Naledi Senior Secondary School strives to be a leader and become a woman rights activist. She also dreams of having a school called Still I Rise which will be built for marginalized girls. Tlotlo’s contention is that change comes from within. “The only enemy of you is yourself. You are the only limitation to your own aspirations. Rise above challenges, you are not a mistake God brought you on earth for a reason.”

About 54 adolescent girls from 13 primary, junior secondary and senior secondary schools attended the dialogue. The dialogue was held in collaboration with The African Women in Leadership Academy.