SEED Community works to empower girls in South Africa

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Photo by Pep Bonet for SEED Community
Photo by Pep Bonet for SEED Community

The SEED Community was founded in 2011 to provide higher educational opportunities for girls and women from challenging economic backgrounds in developing countries through affordable loan programmes. At SEED, our objective is to create the opportunity for girls to take the future into their own hands and at the same time plant the seeds for somebody else’s future and growth.

We are working in South Africa with girls at the grass roots level offering interest free, higher education loans and work opportunities through our SEED School Mentoring Programme. Our community support structure provides a framework for girls to complete their studies, repay their loans, and be independent, active contributors to society.

We do not view the funding for the girls’ education in isolation, but rather as part of a broader social context.
 However bright, capable and motivated the girls are, many face social and economic difficulties preventing them from entering and/or completing their higher education for a variety of reasons, including the following:

Every 27 seconds a girl in South Africa is raped.

More than 20% of school kids are HIV positive.

Nearly one fifth of South African children live in orphan-headed households, according to a Statistics SA (www.statssa.gov.za)

A girl born in South Africa has a 1 in 3 chance of completing secondary school.

SEED Community seeks to address these challenges. With realities such as these standing between women and their independence and empowerment, we believe a standard education is not enough to bring about sufficient social or economic change. As a response, we established the SEED School Mentoring Programme to bring continuing and higher educational opportunities to the reach of girls and women who otherwise could not afford such education.

In return for sponsorship of their loans, SEED students work as mentors in a formal capacity with school learners and tertiary students in the inner city of Johannesburg. They provide positive and creative solutions to the issues students face, helping them to make informed choices in life. We believe children need to be given a voice and the ability to share their stories in a safe environment and to discuss issues that matter to them, enabling them to recognize the potential they hold and their ability to fulfill their goals. The mentoring programme offers this opportunity for the mentees, allowing them not only to receive guidance but also share their opinions, concerns and thoughts with their mentors.

Image: SEED Community

Under the guidance of Nikki Florence, who has been working as a mentor with youth groups for over 20 years, the SEED students currently mentor learners from grade 6 offering continued support until matriculation and beyond to tertiary level. The objective is for each SEED student to mentor learners at a ratio of 1:12. With time, those learners will in turn mentor junior learners at the same ratio.

So far the results are encouraging. It has been a journey of learning for both the SEED girls and the school learners participating in the programme. Most importantly, the experience has generated discussions and dialogues between the participants who are now recognizing that they not only have a voice, but a loud one that can carry far and create substantial change.

We hope you continue to follow our work and hear these voices, as they are only bound to get louder and stronger.

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Category: Uncategorized
Tagged with: education    Education for Girls    Gender Equality    Girl's empowerment    Mentorship    Positive change    SEED Community    South Africa

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    Thank you so much! The SEED girls are looking forward to sharing their stories and informing everyone about what we have been up to as a community in South Africa.

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    Thanks for sharing about the work that SEED Community does in South Africa! We welcome you to Girls’ Globe and look forward to reading future posts!

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    Why the one-sided focus on girls? I note that even of the four claims you make, two and three refer to “kids” and “children” (not “girls”) and four is likely to be similarly bad for boys.

    (As an aside: The first, a rape claim, is so poorly formulated as to say next to nothing. Please replace the “seconds” claim with something dealing with the actual proportion of victims compared to the overall population so that the readers can make a reasonable evalution without having to google for more data.)

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      Hi, Thanks for your comments. The focus on girls is because in economically disadvantaged families boys are more likely to be given the opportunity to engage in tertiary education. Many of the SEED loan recipients are the first girl in their family to matriculate and to attend a tertiary institution. At present our plan is to continue to work with girls.
      How one responds to statistics is personal. The statistic in the blog has been widely published however, here is a quote that may be of interest to you from ActionAid.; Hate Crimes: The Rise of ‘Corrective Rape ‘ in South Africa.
      ‘In South Africa, no woman is safe from violence. There are an estimated 500,000 rapes, hundreds of murders and countless beatings carried out every year. Shockingly, it is estimated that almost half of all South African women will be raped during their lifetime.And for every 25 men bought to trial for rape in South Africa, 24 walk free.

      The other quotes are related to children in general as we are mentoring in schools to mixed groups.
      I hope this answers your concerns. Thank you

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        “The focus on girls is because in economically disadvantaged families boys are more likely to be given the opportunity to engage in tertiary education.”

        My knowledge of the South-African situation is by reputation only and I do not in anyway rule out that there are enough differences in treatment that your angle can be justified.
        However, any such angle (which is a case of sexual discrimation) has great dangers and it would be better to help based on a more neutral and more immediately relevant criterion: Whether the individual, irrespective of sex, is disadvantaged. You can take Sweden as a negative example, where women are still being given an artificial leg up in some areas (or feminist politicians cry for such legs up) after a state of equal treatment already
        has been reached, resp. women actually have the better cards.

        “How one responds to statistics is personal. The statistic in the blog has been widely published”

        You seem to misunderstand my intentions entirely: The point is that the claims of the type “one X every Y seconds” are useless. In almost all contexts they have no informational value and are, on the outside, used to scare people who are not bright enough to realize how little information is present. In contrast, claims giving relative numbers or percentages are highly informative. Absolute numbers are better too, requiring far less to gain the proportion.

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