Mputa Ngalande is a political and social activist working on the topic of adolescent health. He also runs three support group for girls and young women who have become pregnant before the age of 20 years. Mputa was part of the Regional Consultation on Youth Led Accountability workshop in Johannesburg in December 2018 that was organized by Restless Devevelopment and the UNFPA regional office.
There are things that young girls need to know about becoming a woman. Unfortunately, at the time they need to know these things, their circumstances may be transitional. Their families may be unsettled or dysfunctional, and the women in their lives may be busy, ill, absent or too uncomfortable to talk about it because no one talked to them when they were young.
Young girls need to know, and they have questions that need to be answered. All young girls need womanhood training,
‘Womanhood training’ in the sacred art and science of becoming a woman.
This training includes having information and examples that will enable the young girl to take care of herself and her womaness as it grows.
At the time of adolescence a girl needs someone who can teach her about being a woman. Her mother, sisters or aunts should be the ones to explain menstruation, first love, or sex. the women in her life need to exemplify self-nurturing, self-respect, or self-honor and self-control, if they don’t, a girl won’t have anyone to giggle with about these sacred, secret, innocent girly things and she will have to learn about her body on her own or through pictures in the media.
Once Womanhood has begun
A lot of girls learn about womanhood from the walls of Facebook, or restrooms at school and from what boys see fit to say when they want to educate her fast.
By the time someone notice that a girl has become a woman it can be too late for training.
‘Stay away from boys’ is the only thing some mothers would tell a young girl. However, things have changed. Girls should be taught about love and womanhood so that they understand it when it happens to them. Learning about real love comes from the people around you such as parents, aunts, and siblings.
Love grows from a sense of self-nurturing, self-control, self-honor and self-respect. It grows from a girls ability to re-create within herself, and for herself the essence of loving experience she has had in her life. If a girl has no loving experience, or does not have a sense of self-nurturing, self-control self-honor and self-respect, the true essence of love eludes her instead, she will hold onto, reach out to, and find herself embroiled in, her mistaken beliefs about herself and love.