By Hope Moloi, who is part of the Global Citizen Fellowship Program 2020.
In South Africa, young people face disproportionate challenges in finding employment — with an unemployment rate among those aged 15-34 of over 43% in the first quarter of this year.
According to Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), many young work-seekers in the country struggle with a lack of education, sufficient skills, and previous work experience required by employers.
The economy demands skilled and experienced employees, which makes it difficult and decreases the chances for young people to find employment. This then ultimately results in the youth losing hope of ever finding a job. And without employment young people end up having a poor quality of life.
With a hopeful vision in mind Farai Mubaiwa is a young visionary working towards upskilling and empowering the youth of South Africa in order to make them employable.
“Youth empowerment has been my biggest passion and main focal point, particularly the empowerment of black African youth and more specifically women,” she tells Global Citizen.
Farai is the co-founder of the Africa Matters Initiative, which is a youth-led organisation that is committed to educating and motivating African youth ― especially women and girls ― to change their communities and the African narrative through leadership, social entrepreneurship, and advocacy.
The initiative was formed as a response to the lack of media coverage of African lives in comparison to their Western counterparts, and the negative narrative that Africa is poor and stricken.
“For too long, Africa has been painted as the dark continent with no prospects for economic growth or decent living,” said Mubaiwa. “The millions of youth born into Africa are fed this same negative narrative, which results in seeking greener pastures in other lands. This negative narrative is exacerbated by the media. We aim to change this.”
So far the initiative has impacted the lives of over 18,000 African youth through its Schools Leadership Development Programme, Young Leadership Development Programme, and Africa Matters Ambassadors Programme, says Mubaiwa.
In addition to this, the Africa Matters Initiative also hosts events such as networking evenings, workshops on African leadership and women's empowerment, school talks on youth empowerment, and annual summits titled “Towards a Better Africa”.
“I love the interaction, hearing people’s stories, and seeing what I can do to help contribute to the rise of the African continent around us," Mubaiwa says, as she speaks about her love for working with young people. "That is what African Matters focuses on, it’s youth engagement, it's about creating avenues in order to empower youth and create a better Africa.”
In 2017, she was a recipient of the Queen's Young Leaders Award for her work to empower young people through the Africa Matters Initiative.
“I do the work that I do because it contributes to a greater Africa," she explains. "It is about how I as an individual can work in collaboration with others in order to allow for this growth and change which need to occur so that Africa can reach its greatest potential."
Above all this, Mubaiwa also played an influential role in the #EndRapeCulture movement at Stellenbosch University. There she was a part of the protests, presented memorandums, and hosted workshops on rape culture.
“It is sad that we have to resort to marches for something as serious as this," she says. "How many marches? How many hashtags? How many more deaths before something is done? The way that we go about this needs to become more engaging with the youth. I hope we will change. Gender equality is necessary for both genders."
“I was able to be a part of a group of women who educated our community about rape” she continues. “We taught many people about the dangers of degradation, and the fear that women in South Africa constantly experience."
Mubaiwa believes strongly in the power of Africa's youth, and has committed herself to uplifting as many people as possible to ensure a brighter future for the continent.
“Africa is empowered because a young population, if empowered, can tackle Africa’s challenges head first and make tangible changes in our society while leading in an inclusive manner to better society,” Mubaiwa says.
“World leaders are getting younger," she adds. "Through my work I am able to reach masses of young people to encourage them not to wait. We cannot still be saying ‘I’ll wait until I’m older’ before we make tangible change in our communities. We, as young people, can’t afford to wait any longer. Our communities need us now.”
Powered by BeyGOOD, the Global Citizen Fellowship Program unearths African youth with remakrable potential. Through the program, 10 young people will each engage in a paid, year-long fellowship aligned to one of Global Citizen's four pillars of activity: creative, campaigns, rewards, and marketing. You can find out more about the Global Citizen Fellowship Program here.