The idea of women helping other women, benefits both parties and demonstrates just how powerful every woman can be with the right support. Thembelihle Terry-Lynne Zulu, through Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe which she co-founded, is going the extra mile to encourage women to pursue their dreams. Here is what she is doing to support other women.
How have you used your personal challenges to inspire other young women?
Women shouldn’t be shamed for sharing their pains, struggles and life experiences. No woman deserves to be slammed or termed ‘attention-seeking’ or ‘too sensitive’ for sharing her story. Our stories need to be told because in them is the hope for survival for every woman.
My life’s journey epitomizes, to a great extent, the challenges faced by the African girl child. I have been through most of the issues plaguing young women, from abuse to pregnancy, and everything else in between. I once wrote on my personal blog, “I went through some mistakes so that you don’t have too.” Walking young women through their ordeals is a mutual healing process as it helps me as much as it does them.
Tell us more about Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe, how did it come to be?
As the first of five girls, I considered it my duty to help my sisters make the right life choices. Gradually, this mentoring circle grew to include their friends. Our goal is to help every woman, especially the young ones access safe and comfortable adult counsel. We need them to be able to do this without the fear of being judged or unduly reprimanded. To address this, Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe has a mentorship program for business newbies, as well as a Big Sister program for the little girls.
In addition, to debunk the myth that women are naturally unable to work together, we created a platform that has some semblance of a sisterhood. Here, women come together in an informal setting to discuss issues relevant to them, share opportunities, advertise their businesses and have meaningful debates about womanhood in Zimbabwe.
How does a social club in Zimbabwe function?
Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe may not be the first social club for Zimbabwean women, but our approach is the first of its kind. We have branched out into various income generating programs and it’s a constant learning process. The club is accessible to every young woman in Zimbabwe, subscription fees are affordable and within reach. Our structure includes a board, a committee, and ordinary members. Our diversity reveals the implicit beauty of our differences and we are determined to do much more.
How do you provide support when needed?
Through our several social media platforms, we invite Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe members to contribute to planned projects or offer free services. For example, one of our members in Harare identified a pregnant homeless woman who needed help. To alleviate her plight, we brainstormed on possible support solutions.
Our growing membership increases the need to incorporate a wide range of issues facing every woman. We work closely with other NGOs while monitoring progress through the appropriate authorities.
As a co-founder, what advice will you give any woman looking to start a business with someone else?
When starting out, it’s easy to go for people who are within your reach and that’s usually kith or kin. In getting the right hands, be drawn to people who are not only passionate about your vision but who have proved that they can deliver results. You won’t always end up with the ones you started out with and you need to be okay with that. Appreciate small beginnings and don’t mess with the growing process.
Among other things, Girl Grandeur aspires to bridge the generational gap between mothers and daughters. How can young modern women overcome this gap?
A friend once suffered vaginal thrush but couldn’t tell her mother for fear of receiving retribution. There’s no gainsaying the fact that mothers need to create more time for their daughters. These days, more women work as hard and long as most men. And so, inadvertently abandon the formative training of their children to maids, nannies, the media, peers and even Google.
Some parents have been distracted by the cash-stretched times but good parenting isn’t just about money. Making time for your children is paramount – you can’t put a price tag on a thing like that.
Tell us about your relationship with your mother, was there any tension? How was it resolved?
When is there never any tension between mothers and daughters?! As a young girl, I didn’t understand half of the policies she’d put in place. As cliché as this sounds, as I grew older, I began to understand why she did what she did. Now, I understand that she didn’t ‘hate’ me but had to curb some of my rebellious tendencies.
Open and honest communication is key to the mother-daughter relationship. I strongly believe that when a child understands the reason(s) for a reprimand or punishment, he/she is more unlikely to repeat offense.
What do you love best about your mother?
I consider my mother a warrior! A warrior who never let societal beliefs stop my sisters and I from finding our identities and flourishing in them. In retrospect, she understood that everything I did was in preparation for who I was to become. Never did she ask me to be who I was not.
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