The Importance of Educating Young Women

Who is Linda Hlongwa?
I am Linda Hlongwa-Madlala, a member of the KZN Legislature since 2005.

Why are you so passionate about education?
Education brings enlightenment and enhances people’s vision for what they could become. It is a force that develops people from different socio economic backgrounds to becoming architects of their own destinies. Education has the ability to bring about discoveries, new perspectives in life, new systems, innovation and it shift paradigms to allow societies to harness the sustainable growth and development of communities and nations of the world. Whereas education can be used for conquests as we witnessed in the past South Africa, it is also a weapon that, when properly utilized, can brandish new ideas, launch research and developmental approaches, and shine new philosophies that bring about equality and prosperity.

What to you, is the importance of educating women? Women, across colour lines, religions and nationalities, have had a difficult past owing to the patriarchal nature of the societies that groom them. This structure has caused them to be dependent and lose sight of their personality, strength, acumen and other abilities as endowed by their creator. Therefore if you properly educate them as holistic individuals, you are giving them liberation and freedoms that they would naturally have been denied had they not gone to school. In a nutshell education is critical for gender equality and true women empowerment.  Education is a critical ingredient in the lives of women, as it enhances opportunities for them to participate meaningfully in debates affecting our world. An old adage says: ‘If you educate a woman, you educate a nation’. Women as nurturers find ways of growing networks of other women from other walks of life. They learn and grow together by inculcating and cascading valuable lessons amongst each other; these foster progress and prosperity for generations to come. Women have a way of growing small things into big things that benefit the next generation and the next and the next. Education unleashes the very best in the women collective, by first becoming the very best they can be as an individual. All of this can be stated thus: women become extraordinary when educated.

Why are you involved with the Epworth Foundation?
I see it as a most noble initiative to bring and nurture girls, mainly from disadvantaged backgrounds, through the leadership-oriented education that Epworth school provides. Leadership is my passion and so any forward-looking and focused leadership initiative has my ear and eye, hence my involvement with the foundation. I think the history of the school speaks to the success of girls who can move into the market place, not satisfied with occupying mediocre positions but focused on being influential at different levels.  The Epworth Foundation has offered me and other people a privileged opportunity to express our commitment and love for this country of South Africa, by participating in a truly girls-centred and significant initiative.

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