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Eight extraordinary women, each of them a leader in their field, have opened their hearts and their doors to schoolgirls as part of Cell C’s Take a Girl Child To Work Day® campaign.

The hands-on participation of these successful women will help provide work place experiences which show girls that any career is possible. The women join hundreds of participating corporate partners in hosting thousands of young women on May 26 this year.

Now in its 14th year of existence, the campaign is supported by high-profile women whose aim is to empower girls to become strong, independent, entrepreneurial adults.

The development of the Girl Child is part of the 12 thematic areas identified by the United Nations World Conference on Women that took place in Beijing in 1995. The Beijing Platform for Action notes that girls are “often treated as inferior and are socialised to put themselves last, thus undermining their self-esteem”.It’s also noteworthy that the AU’s Africa Agenda 2063 – a 50 year strategy aimed at optimising the use of Africa resources for the benefit of all Africans – provides for 50% women representation in decision-making by 2020. This vision of gender parity by 2020 requires both the public and private sector to work together in ensuring gender equality and women empowerment in all sectors relevant to the economy.

Says Suzette van der Merwe, Managing Executive at the Cell C Foundation: “By supporting the Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work Day® initiative, the girl-child is given an opportunity to explore work and professional opportunities; breaking the stereo-types that are associated with how girls are socialised. It is a practical way of encouraging girls to strive for excellence, dream big and know that nothing is impossible.”

South Africa’s amazon warrior for justice and fairness, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, in her keynote speech to attendees at the University of Johannesburg’s Alumni and Convocation Day in May last year, said: “Twenty years into democracy women have made great strides into becoming better than second class citizens, but they are still second class citizens in some ways. It is a work in progress. That is why it is still important that we bring a girl child to work so that she can understand how workplaces operate; so that she can understand that her place is anywhere where she chooses to be.” She praised Cell C for nurturing tomorrow’s leaders.
Dolly Mokgatle, Executive Director at Peotona Holdings and the 2016 patron for the Cell C Girl Child Institute of Mentorship believes that mentorship is a long-term investment. “When we identify and nurture talent, we have sustainable results in the long term. It has to start somewhere, which is why the Girl Child campaign is so important. It provides that first step – introducing the girl to the workplace. It allows her to realise that there are no limits on her dreams, that any career choice is possible.”

Phuti Mahanyele, the former CEO of Shanduka Group (a multi-billion rand diversified African investment holding company established in 2001), is now Executive Chairperson of Sigma Capital.

She said of the Take a Girl Child To Work Day® campaign: “Many young people in SA are growing up in a world that appears to be filled with limitations. To see them growing with the confidence and faith to make that which appears impossible, possible, is what makes this an important programme for our young women.”

Yvonne Grimbeek, deputy Managing Editor at City Press, says the newspaper staff will give an all-round experience to the girls they host. “Ours is an industry that is crucial to the public discourse and any young person interested in a career in the media is welcomed with open arms. It is important for young girls to see how other women are working in this field and to see that if they dream it, it can become a reality.”

Siza Mzimela is the CEO of an aviation company, Fly Blue Crane, one of the few women in aviation. She sees her participation in this campaign as very important: “I am a firm believer in the saying: Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.” She added: “I am passionate about this campaign as this is a platform to introduce young girls to the aviation industry and to expose them to opportunities that go beyond being a cabin attendant.

Actress, business woman and events planner, Sophie Ndaba, wants to give young women the kind of helping hand she was given as a young girl. “I grew up in an orphanage and a foster home and learned that if you want help, you have to help yourself. Identify your dream, put that together with passion, love, a strong work ethic and self-belief and your dream will be realised.”

This sentiment was echoed by Basetsana Kumalo, business woman and co-owner of Tswelopele Productions, who said: “Young women need to know what opportunities are available to them, that their dreams can be as big as they want them to be. Only by letting them experience what actually happens in companies, corporations, creative fields, and in the media can they get a sense of what is possible for them – what they can achieve.”

At the 2016 launch of the Cell C Take a Girl Child To Work Day® campaign, Minister of Women in the Presidency, Susan Shabangu asked Corporate South Africa to extend the one day into a five day programme where girl children will have an actual feel of the working environment. “This will assist in instilling work discipline and understanding the value of working,” she said.

Cell C has challenged its corporate partners – and every other employer in South Africa – to develop programmes that extend the impact of the Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work Day® initiative.

To find out more or register your participation, go to
cellc.co.za/girlchild

Included in the list of women in Top Jobs who will host girl children on May 26th are:
Thuli Madonsela, Public Protector
Siza Mzimela, CEO of aviation company, Fly Blue Crane
Ferial Haffajee, Editor City Press Sunday Newspaper
Leanne Manas, SABC 2 Morning Live news anchor
Basetsana Kumalo, business woman and co-owner of Tswelopele Productions
Dolly Mokgatle, Executive Director of Peotona Holdings
Sophie Ndaba, actress, interior designer and events manager
Phuti Mahanyele Executive Chairperson of Sigma Capital

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