Cape Town - A young local legal eagle will soon fly the South African flag high as she jets off to Tokyo as one of 10 JCI Outstanding Young Persons of the World nominees.
The Junior Chamber International (JCI) is a non-profit, international, NGO of young people between 18 and 40 years old. It has members in about 124 countries, with an aim to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change.
“When I received the email from Junior Chamber International head office in the US that I was nominated and made the initial top 20 list, I was totally surprised but grateful,” said Melene Rossouw.
Rossouw, a lawyer and women’s rights activist, is a determined and dedicated young woman who does not shy away from any challenge. She is one of 20 young people from across the world shortlisted from thousands of nominations.
Growing up in a drug-violence- and unemployment-ridden community, Rossouw told the Weekend Argus her mother was her protector and biggest cheerleader.
“My mother continued to provide my sister and me with the stability and the environment to excel in sports and academics,” she said.
She graduated from the University of the Western Cape with an LLB and LLM degrees, specialising in public and constitutional law.
Some of her accolades include being selected by the prestigious Obama Foundation as an Obama Leader in Africa (2018).
In 2019, Rossouw was also selected as a Mandela Washington Fellow by the US Department of State, as well as Goodwill Ambassador for the World Youth Summit for Peace by the International Human Rights Commission.
She has worked as an attorney, legal researcher, National Cabinet Committee secretary, ministerial special adviser, ministerial spokesperson/special projects manager, and strategic partnerships and advocacy director.
Rossouw and the nine other young people will be, will be recognised at the 2020 JCI World Congress in November.
The dynamic lawyer’s nomination is a result of her work fighting for women’s rights, and three years ago, Rossowu founded the Women Lead Movement (WLM) with the aim of empowering women and girls through mentorships and human rights programmes.
To date, the movement has empowered more than 2 000 women and young people. WLM also runs projects to teach boys and young men about the rights of women so that they can become better adults.