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Beauty queen challenges corporate sector


Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho and Namibian beauty queens blowing a kiss alongside South African Minister responsible for women Susan Shabangu

Mohalenyane Phakela


MISS Lesotho Sunday Express, Mpoi Mahao has called on local companies to come up with empowerment programmes to afford girls and boys equal opportunities in the corporate world.

Mahao said this in a recent interview with Xpress People on the sidelines of the Take a Girl Child to Work Day and Africa Day celebrations at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa.

The Lesotho beauty was invited to the event along with Miss Botswana, Thata Kenosi and Lizelle Esterhuizen of Namibia. The annual event coincided with mobile communications giant, Cell C’s Take a Girl Child to Work Day which is also celebrated annually on 25 May.

The three invited beauty queens brought along two high school students from their countries and Mahao was accompanied by Miss Lesotho High School, Reatile Molefe (Form C) and her first princess, Lebo Ramohapi (Form E) and their teacher, Moleboheng Ncholu. More than 60 students from South Africa also attended the ceremony.

The celebrations showcased diversified cultural performances by some of the students, a guided tour of the Union Buildings as well as interactive programmes with the four beauty queens (including Miss South Africa) and Cell C representatives led by South Africa’s Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Susan Shabangu.

The girls were given the platform to discuss their dream careers and also listen to motivational speeches.

Launched in 2003, Cell C’s Take a Girl Child to Work Day is an opportunity for grades 10 to 12 (Form C to E) female learners from all walks of life to experience a day in the workplace.

For many, the day spent in shadowing top executives and entrepreneurs opens up a world of hope and dreams. It inspires girls to work hard to achieve what they want to attain in life and contributes towards making their dreams tangible.

To date, over 670 corporates across South Africa are part of the movement and according to Managing Executive of the Cell C Foundation, Suzette van der Merwe, the companies hosted 50 000 school girls from across the country.

“Cell C believes that women can be vibrant contributors to the economy and leading job creators for South Africa,” Ms van der Merwe said.

“By empowering young women to think about the future that they would like for themselves, Cell C believes that this possibility will become a reality.

“We want them to be economically independent and we believe this is a catalyst that can empower them and so far over 600 companies across the country have adopted the initiative.

“When women are vulnerable they often suffer abuse but a well-educated woman is able to stand her ground and provide for her family. Girls with boundaries and dedication towards education succeed in life so the girls are also motivated to protect themselves.”

She further told Xpress People on the sidelines that since the event was held on Africa Day, they decided to invite other African countries as they wish to spread it out across African Union (AU) countries.

“Cell C sponsors Miss South Africa so by default she is our ambassador whom young girls look up to and for the past four years each year’s Miss South Africa spearheads this campaign.

“Gender equality is an issue that is being addressed by all African Union members and Take a Girl Child to Work Day is something we cannot own so we have invited other African countries’ ambassadors so that they can help spread this in their countries.

“We are also celebrating 15 years of this project hence taking it outside the country and our wish is for it to spread across the African Union member states,” she said.

For her part, Miss South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters told Xpress People that it was important for businesses to give young girls the hope for a better future.

“Investing in young girls opens their minds and for them, shadowing business experts broadens their career choices as they are able to learn more about the career paths they wish to pursue.

“This project motivates them to strive to be the best as it teaches them that everything they need to succeed is inside them and all they need to do is unleash it.

“Africa Day should be a day that compels us to recommit to our responsibilities as Africans and show the world that we are the best,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mahao said that Lesotho had been challenged to return the favour but also copy what their neighbour was doing to empower girls.

“This is a great initiative as most girls do not believe in themselves and fail to pursue their dream careers due to the fact that these are often tailored for boys.

“Like boys, they belong in every filed, at a soccer field, math and science fields as well as boardrooms and this project is aimed at instilling that confidence in them so that they can see that they are capable of achieving any goal they set their minds on.

“I think this is a challenge to my country, especially companies as our youth need such inspiration as we come from a society where girls’ thinking is limited for we are still under the norm that girls should submit to boys.

“We were greatly inspired by this session and I am going to work on trying to establish e similar initiative at home which can reach out to girls throughout the country,” she said.

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