By BRIAN SOKUTU
Young South African Simran Sahib is not only about pretty looks.
Deep at heart, the young woman activist, is a humanitarian – determined to make a meaningful change in a society faced with a myriad of challenges: period poverty, youth unemployment, drug abuse, environmental degradation and soaring crime levels.
It is against this background that 17-year-old Sahib, is currently preparing to deliver a TEDx talk in May.
The power of youth activism and the importance of taking action in communities, will be at the core of her TEDx.
Believing that the voice of young people is crucial in helping to shape the future, Sahib is challenging the status quo through youth activism.
Founder of the Legacy Gala Dinner for Girls – an initiative to raise awareness and empower girl children forced to miss school each month, due to not being able to afford buying sanitary products during periods.
Sahib’s initiative ensures the purchase of sanitary wear for the needy – also driving awareness workshops to allow girls and boys from different backgrounds to bridge the social divide.
Passionate about making a difference, Sahib wants to study corporate law and economics when she leaves school.
An up-and-coming model, she is a brand ambassador for various organisations, participating in pageants and aspiring to take her career globally.
A softball provincial player, she volunteers as a qualified first aider and makeup artist, having found her school’s debating team – Sahib has passion for writing poetry, history and literature.
Her upcoming TEDx talk will be an important opportunity to share her message with a wider audience.
Says Sahib: “I think that young people often feel powerless and like they can’t make a difference.
“But the truth is that we have so much power and we can use it to make a real impact in our communities and in the world.”
Period poverty is a term used to describe the inability of individuals to access menstrual products, hygiene facilities or information about menstruation – due to financial constraints or lack of resources.
“In South Africa alone period poverty affects up to seven million South African girls who do not have access to or cannot afford to buy sanitary products.
“This has serious repercussions, with an estimated 30% of South African schoolgirls unable to attend class while on their period,” she adds.
The Legacy Gala Dinner for Girls, is supported by various celebrities and high-profile individuals all over the world. At last year’s event, ambassadors from various countries around the world, attended the gathering, which also drew interest from global and local celebrities.
While many African countries have recognised the problem of period poverty, policies and interventions to address it, vary by country, with some, like Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania, having eliminated value-added tax (VAT) on menstrual products – making them more affordable and accessible to all women.
Sahib is among several top SA female youth activists, who include:
- Zulaikha Patel, who gained national attention in 2016 when she led a protest against the discriminatory hair policies in her school.
- Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, who was 21 years old when she became the leader of the #FeesMustFall movement.
- Yolanda Dyantyi, a social justice activist and community organiser who has been involved in campaigns, including the #FeesMustFall movement to the fight for housing rights in Cape Town.
- Simamkele Dlakavu, a writer, activist and founder of the organisation “Say Her Name,” which aims to raise awareness of gender-based violence against women of colour.
- Thandiwe Msebenzi, student leader who has been at the forefront of the fight against gender-based violence on South African university campuses.
- Anele Nzimande, is a social justice activist and writer who has been involved in campaigns against racism, xenophobia and police brutality.