To mark International Women’s Day 2017, I have conducted a series of interviews celebrating women I feel have had positive influence on society. The third woman is Lerato Morulane.

I‘m Lerato, a 21 year-old youth development advocate from Pretoria, South Africa.  My advocacy focuses on the areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), HIV prevention, substance abuse prevention, LGBTI rights and youth participation within the Sustainable Development Goals and African Union’s Agenda 2063.

I started my activism work at the age of 12 in Atteridgeville, in the west of Pretoria, focusing on sexual violence the community.  Later, I worked on a teenage pregnancy awareness programme with two secondary schools in Atteridgeville. I serve as a member of the African Youth and Adolescent Network for Eastern and Southern Africa, and I also serve as the Chairperson of the National Campaign for Young Women and Girls in South Africa; SHE CONQUERS. Apart from advocacy, activism and my academic background in mechanical technology, I am determined to pursue a Law degree, with fervent intentions of becoming the African Union Chairperson!

  1. What does it mean to you to be a bold woman in the year 2017?

Being a bold young Pan African woman means being able to merge my feminism with my African roots. It means allowing others to explore safe practices in terms of SRHR and also being able to educate other young people that there is nothing wrong with being different or doing things differently. What matters in life is what makes you happy, and being able to be bold but humble.

  1. What important roles do you think women around you, including yourself, play in society?

Women are able to bring people together. They are the ones who can end new HIV infections if they stand together in solidarity. Women are able to end a lot of the social ills within and outside our continent because they can come up with innovative solutions.

  1. How does your career or job you do show that women are capable of achieving excellence?

It shows that women are capable of leading at the back. My job requires me to be vigilant, observant, and creative whilst also being a team player. There is no self-made woman though, and so in order to reach your goals you need to be able to communicate with others and believe in their abilities too.

  1. What mistake (s) have you made in life that you think young girls could learn from?

I used to doubt my abilities and believed that maturity comes with age, however, I’ve learnt that you don’t need other people to approve what you can do. Every day is a learning curve and never compare yourself with the others but keep on beating your own record every day.

  1. What advice do you have for young girls who want to be as bold as you are?

Never be ashamed of where you come from. Find something you love and work on it until you excel because people will always belittle you and try to bury you – show them that you are a seed and grow to be a better person. Never search for perfection in another person or be ashamed of your body, the perfect body is what is staring back at you.

  1. What changes do you hope to see, with regard to economic, social and leadership inclusion of women, in the next 10 years?

One of my goals is to become the African Union Chair and what I would like to see is equity. Many people put women in leadership positions because it is mandatory or a policy, not because women are capable. Therefore, they end up with women who have no passion or interest for that position. Women must choose what they want to do and not be forced into being something because of policies and laws.

Follow Lerato on Twitter:  @leray1995

Cover photo credit: Dakota Corbin

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