Women Lead Movement sat down with Zeneley Mercia Snyders (18) from Weston High School in Vredenburg.

Zeneley is an RCL member at her school

1. Tell us about your background

Life gave me a blow at a young age. I was bullied by older children, since I was very quiet and never spoke or fought back. At the Children’s Home where I ended up, I was also bullied. There my roads crossed with an old man (car accident), who taught me how to look out for myself without getting into a fight. From that day onwards, my life changed because I wanted to be a voice for those who are weaker. Young people go through pain and emotions daily, they are seen but unheard, no one understands them. There is no system or place that listens to them. They perform poorly in school because of the baggage they carry with them. All these things have led me to stand up for those who are suffering mentally and physically. I want to put a smile on the faces of young people and families again. Everyone has the right to be respected. Every person has the right to differ on opinions. South Africa is a country with many challenges, and therefore leaders with passion & compassion need to be developed. Men and women cannot be silent and we need to stand up for the rights and human dignity of others. I want to encourage young people, to be prosperous and courageous and to keep your dreams alive, within yourself as you are uniquely created. Do not allow any person to discourage you, as this will hamper your growth. Remember to pray your way through your challenges.

2. What do you aspire to do after finishing grade 12 next year?

I plan to work hard, from Grade 11 to get a scholarship, to study further, to become a nurse or a social worker. I have already identified the need in my community and neighbouring towns. It has inspired me to teach people who are unable to help or look after themselves. I also want to be a voice for them

3. How do you think the youth can play a bigger role in their schools and communities?

Get involved in school activities such as nutrition programs. Get to know your fellow learner so you know what’s going on in his / her life. When there is a disturbance in the person’s life, you should notice it, and address it. You can also help to eradicate the bullies by reporting it and in doing so also assist the bully. In the community, young people can join neighbourhood watches to secure the community and identify drug houses. Get involved with NGOs to keep young children engaged in activities such as sports and outings.

4. When Women Lead Movement facilitated on Diversity and Inclusion at the Learner Summit, what was the two biggest things you learned and what made you think a bit deeper about the issues in SA?

Every person on earth is different from each other which is why there will always be differences of opinion. Disagreements should not be the cause of exclusion or discrimination. There are different beliefs with regard to your sexual orientation. However LGBTIQI should not be excluded from any activities because they enjoy the protection of the Constitution too. People need to change their way of thinking so that they can be more open, tolerant and respectful to the views and differences of others irrespective of your race, culture, gender, creed or religion

5. If you had to the first female President of South Africa what would you change immediately?

If I were the first female President of the country, I would do the following:

I will rewrite the Constitution to empower more women. Women should not be inferior to men, and should enjoy equal rights as men. Women are the backbone of a household & society. Laws will be adapted to protect women from domestic violence and exploitation. Religion will also be brought back to schools. Dignity and respect for one another, especially women will be brought back into society.