Meet Phumzile Van Damme, South African Minister Passionate About Women Growth

Passionate about empowering young women, Ms. Van Damme is dedicated to making sure they have the support they need to stand on their own feet. “The harder I work, the easier I make it for young women who climb up the ladder behind me, so that their struggle will be a bit easier than mine,” she says.
She encourages young women to run for their political offices. According to her she believes it is important to cultivate self-confidence in our young women. Young African women are often brought up to be quiet, obedient and not challenge the status quo. We need our young women taught from a young age that the world is their oyster, they can be whoever they want to be.


Born 20 July 1983, Phomzile is a Democratic Alliance Member of the National Assembly of South Africa who was elected at the 2014 South African general election. She is the Shadow Communications Minister and was the Democratic Alliance National Spokesperson.She was educated at Lyttelton Manor High School and graduated from Rhodes University.
She grew up in a family of strong women, and her gift for leadership was already apparent when she was a child. In the fifth grade, she called a student strike because the teacher would not allow students to go out for break. For that she earned the nickname “Big Mouth.”
“It is challenging to be a young woman. You struggle to be heard, people don’t take you seriously. You have to work twice as hard [as men] to be taken seriously,” Ms. Van Damme said. Despite such challenges, she says, she would never give up fighting to bring about change in South Africa.
An opportunity came in 2014 when she was elected to parliament at the age of 31, helping to break a gender barrier that once confined women to only 3% of the lawmaking body. Today 42% of all seats in the South African parliament are held by women.
Nevertheless, it is still a turbulent ride for women who choose a public service career. Phumzile has been disappointed by many developments in her field, but says, “Each time, I believe I learn from that disappointment and I become stronger.”
Her message to young women is, “If breakdown happens, you must never, ever think that it’s a sign of weakness or it’s a failure. Do not give up hope. Keep trying. Knock on every door. Work hard, have a balance and take care of yourselves.”
Source:African Renewal

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