In an evolving society, it is only right to recognise the efforts being made by young people, especially young women, in creating impactful change within their societies and spaces. From the city of Bulawayo shines iconic young women who are game changers in civic spaces from significantly young ages. Having reached out to more than 300 people directly and a number above 500 holistically, Ayanda Mitchell Jele prides herself for these achievements through her initiatives in the civic space. Miss Jele is a vibrant, innovative feminist and philanthropist. An Entrepreneurship student at Lupane State University and a mentee under the Intracen’s Coffee roulette, Jele believes that her passion lies in the empowerment of rural adolescent girls and young women in a manner that encourages them to take up space and opportunities for sustainable solutions and livelihoods.
The idea of feminism to her refers to the aspect of representing the small percentage of young female founders within civics Ayanda believes that the world needs more female founders, hence her emphasis on that. It does not stop there, feminism goes beyond advocating for women issues to be heard and addressed, it also has everything to do with educating society, including men and boys, on women’s issues. A shift in mindset is all that is needed to complete this journey that has been in existence for centuries. The young feminist is very much driven by that she believes in the potential young girls have to make it big. Whenever she spots such potential, her goal is to assist that individual until they thrive in their endeavour.
Working in the civic space at the age of 20 has come with a lot of benefits as according to Jele. The growth and transformation is without a doubt a part of this growth. She says her participation has allowed her opportunities such as working with prominent individuals, learning new skills and growing her networks and followership. Her motivation lies in the activeness of other young people who are her age mates, the likes of Bertha Kwezeya, as this makes her believe in herself more and take pride in her work. “Working with organisations such as HOCIC (Hope for a Child in Christ) has helped me in implementing my initiatives and reaching out to more people especially since l also work as part of their programs”, says Jele. The exposure and experience helped give birth to her organisation AfriPRIME where she sits as the co-founder of the youth-led and serving organisation currently operational in Bulawayo, Umguza, Umzingwane, Bubi and Matobo. Working together with other organisations and women is what she believes true feminism look like and stands for as this creates a strong frontline of goal oriented and success driven initiatives. Women can achieve more if they believe in themselves but most importantly if they believe in each other and support one another.
Like any other journey of leadership, her quest for a better society has come with challenges too as part of the package with age and gender being the outstanding elements. Being a woman in a sexist society comes with a number of challenges, what is even more frightening is being a woman who is also very young. Young people struggle with getting the recognition and acknowledgement they deserve for their outstanding work. Jele says that she has been undermined in some spaces because she is a young woman and had to address an audience of the older generation. Being young should not be a hindrance but rather a motivation and there is need for more young people to participate and own their ground as well as create platforms that serve fellow young people just as Amplifying Girls Voices through Digital Arts is doing. Young women are the future, they own it so it is high time they are given the space to advocate for what they want and be the drivers of change. The future is female!