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#YouthMonth: Naledi Chirwa is a feminist, legislator ready to take on the world

Naledi Nokukhanya Chirwa, Image: Instagram

Naledi Nokukhanya Chirwa is young black feminist, legislator and former student activist serving as a Member of the National Assembly of South Africa for the Economic Freedom Fighters.

She describes herself as a mom and a sister to many. Chirwa adds that her existence is greatly informed by the history she is tied to. 

" The resistance and efforts of Black women both historically and currently have greatly informed the ways in which I live and strive for equality and justice for Black people as a whole.  I was afforded feminist privilege having grown up in a home with staunch feminists who amplified and encouraged that I speak my mind and fear nothing. The EFF has also played a great role in affording our young voices a space to be activists in radical ways since my joining in 2014." 

Naledi Nokukhanya Chirwa, Image: Instagram

Chirwa was involved with the #FeesMustFall student protests that occurred across various institutions of higher learning in 2015 and 2016. 

At the age of 26 years, she is among the youngest MP in her party. She was born on 22 July 1993 in Vosloorus, East Rand Gauteng.  She grew up in Mamelodi, Pretoria.

As a teenage girl she assumed a leadership position when she served as a deputy president of the Tshwane North College FET (now known as the Tshwane North College TVET).

Naledi Nokukhanya Chirwa, Image: Instagram

Chirwa pursued a Drama degree at the University of Pretoria and has also become one of the leading voices against Gender Based Violence as it continued to raise its ugly head in the country.

In August 2016, during former president Jacob Zuma's speech at the IEC election centre following the 2016 municipal elections, Chirwa and three other student activists held up signs reading "remember Khwezi",  "I am 1 in 3" and "10 years later", in reference to Zuma's rape trial during the mid-2000s.

The EFF's youngest legislature said she celebrated youth month for various reason but her most important were her "desire to see more documentation of young women who were erased from the books of history as having been catalysts and leaders of the Soweto Uprising." 

She continued saying, " this tendency of erasure seeps into the make of our society which renders ‘the other’ as not worth being documented and their stories being retold. Not fitting into a heteropatriarchy is not only a danger but a consistent reminder that you are not seen and will not be seen. 

"We deliberately celebrate the month to take note and to say their names and to archive their journeys. I celebrate the month as it is a reminder of our influence and duty as young people; until white supremacy and all its manifestations cease to exist, it is our prerogative to organize, agitate and mobilize." 

Naledi Nokukhanya Chirwa, Image: Instagram

South Africa is facing a surge in violence against women, according to state president Cyril Ramaphosa Gender-based violence thrives in a climate of silence. GBV increased dramatically since the government moved the country to lockdown Level 3 on 1 June. Ramaphosa said 21 women and children had been killed in the past few weeks.

One particular case that served as a catalyst for government refocusing on GBV was the brutal murder of 28-year-old Tshegofatso Pule, who was stabbed and hanged from a tree in Roodepoort earlier this month. She was eight months pregnant.

Chirwa has warned that "silence will never be immunity." In her message to young people who have in recent months had to contend with an increase in job losses, Chirwa said, "allegiance and loyalty to a patriarchal system will never erase the possibilities of our endangering. Femicide and gender-based violence against women is our responsibility as a collective. 

"Our imagining and remaking of alternative masculinities rests with all of us, across genders and identities. We should all be at the forefront of supporting policies that seek to undo the work of racism, capitalism and sexism."  She adds, " we stand to benefit the most if the efforts of ensuring justice and love reach out to everyone, especially women, the LGBTQ and children." 

Naledi Nokukhanya Chirwa, Image: Instagram

The outspoken lawmaker said she hoped that women were able to own land in relation to their demographic representation. She then said her ideal country would be a country where people could feel safe and secured. 

"An ideal country is one where safety and security is not a gendered issue and existing as a woman does not directly have an impact on how less of a human being you then become. it must be where inequality and poverty lines are not gendered, where women, the LGBTQ, children, those with disabilities, women in rural areas and all marginalized groups have an equal stake at participating economically and have social and political justices," said Chirwa. 


Naledi Nokukhanya Chirwa, Image: Instagram Gender equality is one of the main health issues in the world, referring to equal opportunities for both men and women to live a healthy life. Unfortunately, this equality does not always arise naturally. Therefore, gender transformative interventions are designed to change gender roles and promote gender equality. 

This is one of many reasons which has led to Chirwa championing various initiatives that are against women abuse.

 In 2017, she become one of the advocates for an online campaign dubbed #ThisIsMyVagina. The #ThisIsMyVagina spoke to the societal conditions of women; it also spoke to the economic conditions of women and academic and religious conditions.

Chirwa said in an ideal country sex work should be decriminalized, and policing structured around rehabilitation and entrenching new socialization objectives. 

"An ideal country for young Black women would be one where policy making, in organizations, corporate and political leaderships from spaces, is centred around the experiences of Black women and their intersectional struggles. 

A society that is able to evolve and adapt to new ways of living that will be of benefit and freedom to Black women, which will result in the freedoms of Black people as a whole. Socialism and Black Radical Feminisms manifesting, will ideally mean a better country for Black women," Chirwa concluded. 

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