Voices of Positive Change: “You can’t be what you can’t see” – Marian Wright Edelman
Zahara's Dream Interview with Lehlogonolo Muthevhuli, Youth Leader, South Africa
1. What was your first dream as a young girl?
My first dream was to be a lawyer. I really wanted help people and to be part of a system that serves justice.
2. What does empowerment mean to you?
Empowerment means to be equipped to exercise authority. It also means being in the position to uplift others.
3. What does opportunity mean to you / what does equal opportunity for women look like for you?
Equal opportunity for women means being given a fair chance and being allowed into an equal playing field. Opportunities should be granted based on abilities not based on personal physical traits such as gender and race.
4. How do you start your day to achieve the objectives you have set for yourself?
I have come to realise that not achieving the objective I’ve laid out only delays progress which can also result in opportunities being lost. It is because of this that I make sure to write all my objectives down into the smallest step and allocate time to them so I can tick them off once I have completed them.
5. How can mentoring benefit young women and girls?
Mentorship can benefit young woman and girls because having someone to look up too who is in an aspiring profession as them will serve as motivation. You will be seeing yourself in them [the mentor] which will validate your dreams and aspirations. It is also beneficial because there will be someone to guide you and to teach you the ropes of things – lessons you can only learn from lived experience.
6. What would be a piece of advice for young women overcoming social and economic adversity?
I would encourage that they work on strengthening family relationships as this would create a solid support structure. I would also encourage volunteering and participating in accredited organizations that are related in their area of interest. This could be in school or in their communities. This will help with networking and broadening their knowledge and opportunities will come from it.
7. How do you manage disruptors/toxicity in your journey?
By remaining true to the end goal. I also rely on my spirituality to keep me grounded. I also make sure to discuss matters with those close to me [parents, religious leader, mentor] so they can guide me through it.
8. How do we address patriarchy within our society?
Women should be given the same empowerment and opportunities that men are given. This should start from family tradition which would filter into broader societal norms.
Patriarchy should also be addressed by eliminating phrases that belittle women and limit their potential such as “you run like a girl” because when such phrases are said to a male, it is subliminally meant that females are unable to carry out such activities.
9. How did you survive your greatest fear?
By knowing that I will overcome the hurdle and that this phase will not last forever. I had to learn from the experience so I can overcome it.
10. How did you turn fear and failure into strength and opportunity?
Rather try and fail than not try and not know the outcome. By failing in something you would have acquired knowledge with knowing what strategies don’t work. Therefore, the next attempt you have you will know what not to do which can result in succeeding. Failing also build character as long as you know not to be comfortable being in the failed stage.
11. What is the best career advise you were given?
The best career advice I’ve been given is to study something that does not lock you in one set career path. I have also been told to not feel compelled to upgrade the qualification I currently have but to be able to divert the areas of work. Always broadening your knowledge as wide as you can. Another career advice I have been given is to craft yourself as a brand and to be able to market it.
12. What is your personal motto?
Push as far and wide as you can as you never know which door may open.
13. What would you tell your younger self if you were to meet her right now?
I would tell her to not doubt herself and to be confident in what she believes in because that is what will get her seen and heard.
14. What is your advice for young women and young people worldwide?
We’re often seen as radicals who are ungovernable and who lack direction and focus. This is not true. If anything, we are able to point out wrong from right and to seek change. We need to occupy space and to be present. Whenever you get an opportunity, grab it and use it fully.
15. What vision of the future do you see/hold for young people?
A future where young voices are taken serious and where young people are provided a platform to be a part of decision making agencies.