Stories of Change: A BRAVE Leader Speaks Out

“Imagine not being able to take a morning run, not being able to wear your favourite shirt, not being able to go to the post office. Imagine not being able to live freely and always feeling confined because your body and its politics are those of others. Now imagine being a woman in South Africa.

For centuries, women in this country have fought for their seat at the table—by protesting and standing up for each other. Since the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, it became extremely evident that women and girls are safe nowhere, especially in their households, as gender-based violence has drastically increased.

Our hearts break at BRAVE. We are a female-led initiative that supports girls through the most challenging and transformative periods in their lives. As the world experienced COVID-19, many experienced more than one pandemic. In the first week of the lockdown, the Minister of Police reported a 30% increase in reports of gender-based violence. Police records reveal that more than 100 women are raped each day in South Africa and the numbers are increasingly terrifying.

At BRAVE we understand because we experience these things ourselves. And we fight back. The BRAVE Senior Leaders are aware that we must live our entire lives with our intersectionality being at the forefront. As another day of our lives feels like another day we are violated, it seems like our rights are constantly denied.

Since the start of lockdown, the BRAVE team has continued working with the girls in the programme, who as young adolescents are often most at-risk. The BRAVE team risked their lives to deliver essentials such as food and sanitary towels to the girls. We are helping the girls cope with the challenges they face. We talk openly about their mental health and provide much needed therapeutic sessions.

And we help strengthen their educational foundation so they can go back to school prepared. We want to be that constant voice that reminds the girls, and their community and families, how very important they are—that their lives matter and should not be taken away so inhumanely. We advocate for them to help them stand in the front lines without fear.

– Miche Williams, Senior Leader, BRAVE

EMpower grantee partner BRAVE creates safe spaces for girls in South Africa. The organisation empowers girls to stay in school, helping them gain self-confidence and leadership skills, become financially independent, and lead safe and healthy lives.

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