Legendary South African actress and Dove partner Sthandiwe Kgoroge. Picture: Supplied

October 11 marks the 8th annual commemoration of the UN sanctioned International Day of the Girl Child, which aims to recognise girls’ rights, as well as the unique everyday challenges girls face around the world. 

This internationally recognised day promotes girl’s empowerment, and fulfilment of their human rights. On this day every year, Dove, through their Dove Self-Esteem Project, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, raises awareness about the issues of body confidence and self-esteem, through highlighting the work that they do in schools around the country, and the world.

To date, the project has reached over 35 million young people around the world, making this programme the biggest provider of self-esteem education of its kind.

The 2019 theme for the day is GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable – and with this in mind, legendary South African actress and Dove partner Sthandiwe Kgoroge reflects on what this means for her and the work that she does, as she plans to join Dove at a local school to share her encouragement and support on the day:

“Although we cannot only highlight the issues that our young people face once a year, it is important that we use days like International Day of the Girl Child, and the work that Dove is doing, to reflect on the more that we can all do. In the context of what is happening in our country with more young people facing depression daily, rampant body shaming, colourism and increased suicide rates, a stronger emphasis needs to placed on tackling these issues on a daily basis.

"The Dove Self-Esteem Project is one such programme that aims to provide tools to young people and address the issues of body shaming, digital distortion, harmful comparison and other critical issues that our young people face at a foundational level in schools. Having these conversations is key to equipping future generations to become aware of and deal with these issues. 

"In the next five years, we cannot still be having the same conversations around self-esteem, we need to address them now and be deliberate about taking these conversations home, and I take that responsibility very seriously as a parent.” 

A recent Instagram post by Sthandiwe Kgoroge highlights the importance of raising a generation of confident young people, and how we need to empower them to be the best version of themselves.

View this post on Instagram

Ziggy had an incident in class where another 9yr old boy body shamed her in class, in front of her friends. I'm happy as to how the teacher immediately took this seriously and how Ziggy herself was able to articulate this as "you're body shaming me, l’m going to tell my parents and Maam". I asked the young boy the next morning (yes,I'm that mom 🤦🏿‍♀)if he understood what body shaming is and if he understood how this affected Ziggy. He was remorseful but said he had never heard of body shaming. The research stats for DSEP(Dove Self-Esteem Project) state that 8 in 10 girls with low self confidence will opt out of important activities such as raising their hands in class, speaking to voice their opinion or participating in sport. 33% of women and 25% of girls with low self-esteem will not be assertive in their opinion or stick to their decisions when they don't feel good about themselves nor the way they look. So as much as this young man was just being a kid, his act could have affected the trajectory for Ziggys life, that one small incident could have been her turning point. She is a kind,big hearted, confident, smart, opinionated 9yr old and I look at her everyday in awe, wishing I was that organised and clear of thought at 9. We were not born with low self-esteem, insecure or with whatever issues we have, something happened, someone said something. It could be a little 9yr old boy or girl when we were kids, it could have been a relative or a loved one, this then highlights the importance of parents / caregivers reinforcing positive messaging with their children and giving them the power to speak up when they feel that someone has treated them badly. Also, the importance of us taking the time to really help little ones understand the impact of their words on others! I hope this reminds us of the responsibility we all have towards each other. #dsep #showus @dove

A post shared by Sthandiwe Msomi - Kgoroge (@sthavintage) on