Female Empowerment the Main Aim at “Girlology” Workshop
Student Support Services in the College of Health Sciences at UKZN recently hosted a series of fun and exciting workshops for about 1 200 of its female students titled: “Girlology - The Ultimate Guide to surviving and thriving as a Girl”.
The “Girlology” workshops, a term coined by Life Coach and workshop facilitator, Ms Karen Burt, refer to “all things girl”. The workshops have been held around the country since 2012, empowering and transforming more than 11 000 young women aged between of 18 and 26.
The workshops, designed by Burt, and sponsored by Kotex, encourage young women to analyse how they perceive themselves and how negativity and judgments within society can create an unhealthy environment for them.
Issues discussed included humiliation for some girls during monthly menstruation, rape, HIV infection, domestic violence, unplanned/teenage pregnancy, substance abuse and peer pressure.
The workshops emphasised self-belief, self-esteem, self-love, self-respect and self-affirmation in a positive, fun environment where female students were given the opportunity to focus on how they judge themselves and the impact of such judgment on their well-being.
Four male students joined the last hour of the workshop for an open dialogue on how males perceive females and vice-versa. A burning issue for the men was: ‘When a girl says "No" what does she really mean?’ This led to much discussion on mixed messages, different perceptions and communication.
The students paired up for debates and there were also group discussions in which they shared their likes, dislikes, insecurities, judgments, dreams and motivations.
The Manager of Student Support Services at the College, Dr Saloschini Pillay, said ‘Whilst empowerment programmes form a part of the core services offered by student support services, the impetus for the series of workshops came from a male student in the College. ‘He approached me to share his views on the need for a special kind of empowerment for female students, hence the main focus of the series of “Girlology” workshops, was to show how low self-worth limits a women’s belief and prevents women from being the champions that they are meant to be.’
- Zakia Jeewa