- Thokozile Nhlumayo is a political activist determined to break barriers in South Africa and the world
- She is a member of the International Youth Parliament and the creator of the #NotTooYoungToLead movement
- In her early career, she faced discrimination based on her age and gender and planned to change the system as a result
- Inspired by her tale of resilience and her motivation to give the youth a voice, Thokozile was named one of Briefly News 2022 Women of Wonder
While pursuing a role in public office, Thokozile was told that men over 50 were more likely to succeed.
However, Nhlumayo was not one to succumb to the challenges she met and decided to be the much-needed change.
After serving as a political activist for numerous years, Thokozile Nhlumayo set her sights on public office and channelled her strengths in her new venture.
Little did she realise, despite being capable and eager to run for office, her dreams would be quickly cast aside.
In an exclusive interview with Briefly News, Nhlumayo, who is one of Mail & Guardian's 200 Young South Africans 2022, gets honest about her journey in South Africa's political climate.
Nhlumayo faced misogyny in her early career
Using the obstacles thrown at her, the passionate woman turned them into a ladder that cast her into a more significant position to become the voice of those facing similar struggles.
Nhlumayo challenged the political world but was met with misogyny every step of the way.
“If your voice becomes louder, then you are overstepping your mark. There is a hierarchy that you cannot threaten, once you become a threat to this hierarchy, you are no longer celebrated,” she said.
During her journey, Nhlumayo realised that she would succeed by creating a tribe of like-minded women who hoped to challenge the system.
“I kept hearing from the women around me how being a woman in politics made it so hard for them to thrive because they must work two times harder to prove themselves."
Thokozile said these women desperately wanted and needed to be seen as leaders, not just female leaders.
"Hearing those women, who look like me, sharing their different journeys in politics and the hurdles they came across was just affirmation that I am on the right track.”
Although she started her journey alone, Nhlumayo established a network of women who supported each other and held each other accountable.
Thokozile channels her frustrations to start a movement for youth
The executive secretary of the International Youth Parliament gained recognition through her #NotTooYoungToLead campaign, which later turned into a movement.
Thokozile created the hashtag to empower and inspire other young people to prove young people are capable leaders.
What began as an online conversation became a way to hold the South African government and political parties accountable.
“I used it as a catalyst for the social change I wanted to see. It helped me to reach an international audience in a short space of time.
"Moving forward, I think it can be used as an opportunity by young people to redefine politics in their own terms, it can be used by young people to reinvent governance and continue to amplify their voice in politics, leadership, and decision-making."
Not just a movement for the youth, but the minorities too
The executive secretary also dedicated a substantial amount of time to issues surrounding women and members of the LGBTQI+ community.
Thokozile believes there has been an evolution in conversation within the country since her early days in politics.
The go-getter started LGBTQIA+ and women’s political leaders' programmes, which sought to empower young political leaders with leadership skills to help them run for public office while educating political parties about inclusion.
“When I started the LGBTQIA+ and women’s political leaders programmes there was no conversation.
"There was no language to create a conversation, and there was no beat.
"So, I think one of my biggest achievements is the creation of this cultural conservation,” she said.
Nhlumayo's dream is to eradicate the need for organisations like hers
Thokozile's vision is that there will be no need for organisations that advocate for the youth. She believes it is still achievable.
“I believe that as soon as South Africa acknowledges and harnesses youth leadership and the passion and energy that comes with it, it will be possible and easy to achieve this.
Young leadership will ensure that South Africa benefits from an array of youthful human capital that can take the country's development agenda forward, she told Briefly News.
Nhlumayo added her call for inclusion in leadership, politics, and all decision-making roles stem from the realisation that Africa is a youthful continent.
“We want to see young people moving from being recipients of decisions to being shapers of decisions.”
Thokozile is inspired by former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and her work on programmes and policies to reduce inequality throughout her political career.
Her goal is to one day be a member of the United Nations.
Briefly News 2022 Women of Wonder aims to inspire women
Briefly News wants to celebrate the female changemakers of 2022 by honouring a few influential, inspiring women.
The team looked for women who made a success despite some tough challenges they faced in their respective sectors.
Our goal is the create inspirational content that shows our audience what the embodiment of a resilient and strong South A woman is.
Briefly News wants to motivate other women to go beyond their limits.
If you want to participate in our next special project or want to be featured in one of Briefly News' women empowerment articles, please email email@example.com with Women Empowerment in the subject line.
PAY ATTENTION: Сheck out news that is picked exactly for YOU ➡️ click on “Recommended for you” and enjoy!
Source: Briefly News