Empower one woman, empower the whole nation
by Thando Gwinji (Solusi University)
Female Students Network can be seen from afar as just an organization doing a few programs to empower female students in tertiary institutions but from deep within they are doing more than that, they are actually reaching out to the whole world. This is a testimony from a female student by the name of Thando Gwinji from Solusi University in Bulawayo.
I first encountered FSN in 2011 when I was a 2nd year student doing Peace in Conflict Studies and at that time I was the president of the Peace Club and I attended FSN workshops so that I can further my leadership skills. Well I got more than that, through constantly attending these workshops I got exposure to a wider range of skills, I developed self-confidence, self-awareness and open-mindedness. Above all I got a platform to express myself and my passion in life through constantly interacting with the organization. Through the FSN blog I advanced my writing skills and created awareness on issues affecting me and other female students around Bulawayo. Opportunities then started to build up because my voice was being heard and because of the training that I had received I was bold enough to take them on. In a word or two I can say that I was empowered to be a bigger person than I was before.
The Pull Her Down (PHD) syndrome is a very common phenomenon amongst ladies who want to escalate to high positions, FSN however modelled the Push Her Up (PHU) very well. Being just a female student I got the chance to go and represent not just FSN but Zimbabwe and Africa at large at the Study of the United States Institute for Civic engagement (SUSI) through FSN. In this 2014 SUSI program, there were 20 participants representing the SADC region. Of the 5 weeks that I spent in America, 3 weeks were at the University of Nebraska where I was studying leadership, democracy, civic engagement, and human rights with top-notch professors and at the end of the training I was awarded with a certificate of recognition for outstanding academic achievement and leadership skills. Even before the completion of the course I was living the American dream, and so many doors seem to be opening up.
However, it is not what I achieved that is of essence, it is what I am going to do with what I achieved that matters. The least that I can do is give back to the society, though I don’t have much to give, I believe that the little the effort that I give goes a long way, I will begin by sharing the little knowledge that I have accumulated. I have grown to believe that information dissemination is the first step towards empowerment and anyone can do it. For every young lady out there know that you are also an agent of social change and powerful beyond measure. In my stay in America, I wasn’t only gaining knowledge but I was teaching Americans about Africa as well and I came to appreciate where I come from more. Looking at Africa from a different angle, I could see that we have a lot of potential but we also have a lack of will power and that will power begins with young people who strive to make a difference. Female Students Network is making a difference but it is up to us young ladies to embrace those efforts and be agents of social change.