Tlaleng Ketumile

Gender activist

In 2014 Tlaleng Ketumile’s teacher at her previous high school asked her and her grade 10 classmates to enter the Empowervate Trust Youth Citizen Action (YCA) programme’s competition. The challenge was to identify a social issue in their community and find ways of tackling it.

Recognising that Ketumile had the ability to inspire her peers, the teacher made her the leader of the group. At first Ketumile and her friends decided to focus on teenage pregnancy, but while brainstorming, they realised that the direct cause thereof was statutory rape.

So they initiated a campaign called “Stand Together Against Rape” (Star), creating online awareness about rape, using the hashtag #BUA (which means “talk” in Setswana), as well as conducting silent protests at strategic points within their community. They also created a safe space where rape victims could obtain support.

Last year, Ketumile was part of a leadership development programme organised by non-profit organisation, enke: Make Your Mark. There — as her community action programme — she initiated “Abafazi I am Enough,” aimed at creating awareness about gender inequality at schools, as well providing girls with a platform to be heard and respected. “It also encourages boys and girls to become feminist by advocating for equality in all spheres of their daily lives,” she says.

Ketumile’s passion is to initiate change, and have fun while doing so. She is regularly invited to speak at schools as a motivational speaker and on radio, and is particularly busy during October, as October 1 is the International Day of the Girl.

Once she completes her schooling, Ketumile wants to study medicine and specialise in gynaecology. “I am passionate about women and I believe my future career choice will allow me to continue being an activist against sexual violence and an advocate for women’s rights in the medical world.” Fatima Asmal