Many of us let our background define our future. We lose sight of our dreams because of someone telling us that ‘it has never been done before’.” These are the piercing words of South African born trailblazer, Asnath Mahapa, the first African woman to become a commercial pilot. Addressing a group of girl learners at the launch of the ‘Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work Day’ on Thursday, she further charged: “I am here to tell you something, all of you have an inherent ability to become what ever you want to become if you believe in yourself.”
Now in its 17th edition, this year’s programme follows hot on the heels of a call by President Cyril Ramaphosa for all citizens to play their part in making South Africa a great nation. The launch event was hosted alongside a series of events countrywide that saw the Office of the Presidency and The Public Protector exposing hundreds of girl learners to work environment as part of the annual initiative.
This year’s theme, #MoreThanADay, takes root from a huge concern that one day is just not enough to guide the girls on “the steps they need to help them realize their dreams”. As such, Cell C has dedicated three days in the year to the programme, starting with the inspirational workshops on Thursday (May 30). This will be followed by the #WhoAmI self-discovery journey on Friday, July 26, where learners will explore their strengths and future aspirations. Day three, #EmpowerYourself takes place on Friday, August 30 and will see learners being taught how to use their immediate resources – through the CellCgirl’s CV creator – to help them take their next step in their career journey.
700 companies signed up to empower girl children
The initiative, which started in 2003 as an internal CSI project for Cell C, now serves as an opportunity for over 700 host organisations who have signed up this year to expose high school learners to available career opportunities and choices.
Mahapa, who grew up in rural Limpopo in the small village of Matlala – with no access to running water and electricity – is excited to have teamed up with Cell C for this life changing experience. As the first senior officer on the South African Airways’ Airbus 340, she wants to use the platform to motivate young girls to believe in themselves. Having made history as the first African woman to acquire a commercial pilot licence back in 1999, her message is that; “just because something has never been done, doesn’t mean you can’t be the first one to do it.”
Excited about the partnership, Suzette van der Merwe, Cell C MD for CSI says Mahapa embodies everything they are trying to achieve as a company. “Giving up on her dream to become a pilot was simply never an option,” she says, adding: “She faced many obstacles but believed in herself and didn’t give up until she earned her wings. She’s an inspiration, and we are thrilled that she is part of the movement this year.”
Closing workforce gender gap, slowly but surely
Having impacted millions lives so far, the Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work Day is cognizant of the fact that gender equality is critical to building a shared future, as cited by the International Monetary Fund. It is no wonder that in 2018, the programme was awarded the Standard Bank Top Women Corporate Citizenship Award’s Top Gender Empowered company category for the second time.
For more information on how to participate in the programme, visit www.cellcgirl.co.za. The interactive online platform, which provides educational and employment resources, as well as links to bursaries and internships, can also be accessed by learners who are unable to attend any of the programmes at participating companies.
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