Located in South Africa, the Women’s Leadership and Training Programme (WLTP) is a small, but enduring, registered non-profit organization of women, promoting leadership through training of young African women and girls. It has a rich and diverse history over 37 years. Many of the staff members at various times have come up through the ranks of WLTP’s own programmes.
Where We Are
The Women’s Leadership and Training Programme (WLTP) is a small, but enduring, registered non-profit organization of women, promoting leadership through training of young African women and girls. It has a rich and diverse history over 37 years. Many of the staff members at various times have come up through the ranks of WLTP’s own programmes.
The two rural areas where the Women’s Leadership and Training Programme (WLTP) is making a difference, lie 2 to 3 hours south and west of Durban in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Beautiful indigenous forests and rivers surround the populated areas in the degraded Grassland Biome. The population of more than 40 000 people in each area, is organised into 20 Tribal Authorities who are responsible for land jurisdiction, and 4 Municipalities that are tasked with delivering services to the people.
This typical post Apartheid rural scenario of impoverishment persists, because rural development needs have largely been neglected.
Empowering Girls through Leadership Development and Support
WLTP works with a core group of Teenage and Pre-teen girls (60 in each area) whom we train to become good, honest and ethical leaders.
Since 2010, WLTP has trained more than 2 000 girls and young women leaders who have impacted more than 50 000 youth in households and schools.
We build their self-esteem, encourage assertiveness and resistance to peer pressure. They have developed a Code of Conduct for themselves that promotes education, and behaviour that will prevent teenage pregnancy and substance abuse.
Strategic Gender Analysis
Patriarchy is very strong in the areas. It impacts girls when they are very young, reducing them to servitude and invisibility. WLTP helps girls and young women analyse how patriarchal cultural mindsets and practices retard their progress, helping them to build new attitudes and cultural norms. They grow into Young Women who are proud of their indigenous roots and are keen to take on careers that will build the African Continent.
Interconnectedness of Girls and Women with Nature and understanding the Climate Change Impacts in communities.
They know that life is dependent on the elements – water, soil, the atmosphere and fire- and that these together with biodiversity, have to be protected and kept in balance. WLTP projects relate to these elements:
Gender and Water in a Rural Context
Although men and boys fetched water for themselves in the past, the migratory labour system changed that when men were absent from homes for long periods. The provision of Water has become ”Girls’ Work” and impacts negatively on their school performance because of the time required, sometimes during school hours. WLTP is concentrating on a water project with girls. When Municipal water piped to communal taps near homes fails (lack of service delivery), often for months at a time, girls are obliged to walk long distances to rivers, streams, wells and springs to fetch water.
Girls, Young Women and Water
The girls recently tested the water sources and found some to be badly polluted. They met with their local chiefs (Amakhosi) and made them aware that lack of water impacts badly on girls’ lives. The Amakhosi have included representatives of these girls in their tribal Water Committees (unheard of) and together they plan to improve the quality of water and to lobby and pressure the Municipalities to provide a reliable supply of clean water. The Traditional Leaders pushed for Water after attending WLTP sessions and the Municiality now has springs protection on its agenda. ”We are very proud of what WLTP is doing with the girls. They are different from their peers. What comes out of their mouths shows deep knowledge about various issues. We wish this kind of education could be a gift for every young person in our community.” Headman Swela, Makhuzeni, Centocow.
Climate Change Awareness and Action
The girls have learned how carbon pollution of the atmosphere combines with Fire (the Sun) to trap heat, causing global warming and Climate Change. They in turn educate others about the importance of 1.5° and 350ppm and how all people can work to reduce carbon emissions to achieve that goal. They practice the 7 Rs- Reduce, Re-use, Repair, Recycle. Refuse (say No), Restore and Re-educate.
Biodiversity and Climate Change
Our third theme is the restoration of Biodiversity where at the moment our main activity is birding. We have about 40 girls and 10 boys in two clubs and birding is their favourite activity. Birding is a particularly ‘untransformed’ hobby, and our boys and girls are making a difference in this field.
Girls have joined Professor Colleen Downs in the Annual Cape Parrot Count for many years in the indigenous forests in the Centocow area.
There are Ground Hornbills too in both Centocow and Hlokozi. We have had a partnership with Mabula Ground-Hornbill Project since 2016. Both Lucy Kemp and Nthabiseng Monama have worked with WLTP every year since then except during Lockdown. Lucy has met with the traditional leaders about becoming ground Hornbill custodians and Nthabiseng has educated hundreds of learners at a number of schools.
We have attended 3 Birdlife South Africa Flocks, “Flock in the Berg,” “Flock in Skukuza” and “Flock on the West Coast” where we won first prize for the best Speed Presentation.
We have been working in Centocow since 1994. Our Director, Sibongile Mtungwa, comes from there and was in our first workshop as a young woman. In Centocow we work with 30 Pre-Teen girls, 30 Teenage Girls, and 20 Young Women who are mostly in cities doing tertiary studies. And we also work with boys and young men when we have funding. There are boys in the bird clubs.