As they transition into adult-hood, girls often face challenges that affect the way they see themselves and the world at large.
Cases of early pregnancies for instance, come about as young girls explore their physical bodies.
There are other challenges that girls face that stem from self esteem, personal identity, questions about career choices and relevance; general life direction and finding their place in society.
It is against this background that Women Inspire International, a local organisation aimed at helping women and girls realise their full potential, has introduced the Big Sister Concept to strengthen mentoring bonds between young girls and older women.
Women Inspire International founder and executive director Deliwe Makata says every girl should believe in herself and realise that she matters.
“Mentoring can be a valuable means of providing support and reinforcing the belief that we are all special and important. It is about building relationships that influence positive personal decisions and enhance individuality,” she says.
Mentoring is the presence of a caring individual who provides a younger person with support, advice, friendship, reinforcement and constructive role modeling over time.
The Big Sister Campaign will focus on women in leadership and entrepreneurship; education and human rights advocacy as well as career building and skills development.
“Under education and human rights, advocacy will be done to enhance and increase understanding on issues surrounding the existence of human rights and how girls can take advantage of the laws in defending and exercising their rights.
“We would like to ensure that girls learn from positive model figures who have achieved educational relevance and understand the importance of not only staying in school but doing so purposefully with direction,” she says.
As for career building and skills development, the girls will be exposed to personal talks with successful women in various careers and they will have practical lessons on how young women can expose themselves to opportunities that will sharpen their skills.
One of the Big Sister Ambassadors Tendai Banda, a fellow for Young African Leaders Initiative (Yali) says: “Every day I question myself how I can use the little knowledge I have to empower others, especially young women.
“So imagine my joy when I was asked to become an ambassador for Women Inspire’s Big Sister campaign! As a big sister, I will use my personal and professional experience to mentor young girls build their potential and reach out for their goals.”
The Big Sister Campaign is national and plans to register girls in 15 districts and train big sisters that will mentor young adults. Their target is to see 10 000 young adults impacted in all the three components mentioned above. They also plan to support 10 young women who intend to take up entrepreneurship ventures.