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There was much excitement when Waverly Girls High School principal, Hamilton Seopa and Grade 11 and 12 learners Lesogo Phatshwana, Lebogang Mateya, Kesleigh Usher and Nikisha Latchram met with Cell C CEO, Jose Dos Santos.

He hosted them ahead Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work Day® which takes place around the country tomorrow(Thursday 26 May).

Dos Santos joins hundreds of corporate and business leaders who will host 50 000 young women.  A record 650 companies, government departments and civil institutions have registered to participate in this year’s campaign.

In discussion with Dos Santos, the girls wanted to know how best to make a success of their own lives as well as the best way to go about choosing a career. The CEO shared his personal views and experiences, telling the girls that success can be achieved, provided that one is focused, passionate and committed to hard work.A strong proponent of the programme, Principal Seopa called the Take a Girl Child to Work Day campaign “breath-taking and inspirational”.

He said: “Cell C gives these young women hope to become someone they ever thought they could be.”

Some of the pupils participating in the programme this week are likely be come from child headed homes, Seopa said, adding that Take a Girl Child to Work Day will bring hope to these girls. “They will know that they are capable and can strive for the successes described to them by Mr Dos Santos.”

Head Girl Lebogang Mateya wants to be a doctor. She said the chance to meet and interact with the chief executive officer of a large telecommunications company had helped broaden her thinking.

“While I am still in high school, it is a good idea to keep all my career options open. Even if I stick with my career choice, I can still gain valuable learning through this experience,” she said.

Deputy Head Girl Lesego Phatshwana said it was a privilege to be hosted by the CEO. She said his insights not only inspired her to be more tenacious, but also deepened her passion for her chosen career, which is also in medicine.

The development of the Girl Child is part of the 12 thematic areas identified by the United Nations World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. The Beijing Platform for Action noted that “girls are often treated as inferior and are socialised to put themselves last, thus undermining their self-esteem”.

The Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work Day initiative partners with corporate South Africa, Government and the media and acts as a platform for young women to be exposed to the workplace and various professional career opportunities.

It is a practical way of encouraging girls to strive for excellence, dream big, have strong self-esteem and know that nothing is impossible.

Seopa echoes this sentiment saying: “I believe that this programme has contributed to the growth of women in business.  Cell C is making history through providing these young ladies with an opportunity to believe in themselves.”

Speaking at the launch of the 2016 campaign Minister of Women in the Presidency, Susan Shabangu, challenged corporate South Africa to extend the one-day into a longer 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.

In order to grow this initiative into a meaningful movement, Cell C established a Girl Child Bursary Fund. “In partnership with The Tomorrow Trust, the fund currently has 30 recipients from disadvantaged and vulnerable backgrounds studying at various tertiary institutions across the country,” says Suzette van der Merwe, head of the Cell C Foundation.

She added: “We wish to encourage all corporates to set aside at least one bursary per year specifically for females. Should each participating company in Take a Girl Child to Work Day offer one young woman a bursary per year, we will have hundreds of bursaries donated per year. We have also established a Girl Child Institute of Mentorship under the patronage of Dolly Mokgatle, Executive Director of Peotona Holdings. The Institute matches Cell C female executives and senior managers with our bursary recipients and is an important element of ensuring the sustainable empowerment of the Girl Child beyond a ‘one-day’ experience in the workplace.”

For companies wanting to explore a similar programme, Cell C has made a draft mentorship manual available for download at https://www.cellc.co.za/cellc/cellc-foundation

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