Johannesburg – The United Nations Population Fund Agency (UNFPA), the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, this week announced the appointment of Miss South Africa 2020, Shudufhadzo Musida, as UNFPA Regional Champion.
The two-year partnership will promote the rights of women, girls and youth. It will also contribute to Africa’s Agenda 2063, the Sustainable Development Goals and UNFPA’s three transformative results – ending preventable maternal death, ending unmet need for family planning, and ending gender-based violence (GBV) and harmful practices.
By serving as a regional voice, Musida will play an instrumental role in advocating for universal access to sexual and reproductive health, as well as the mental health of women and girls in the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region.
On why she wanted to work with the human rights organisation, Musida said it was important that we all play our part in ending violence against women and girls.
“The organisation focuses on the promotion of human rights of women and young girls, which is something I’ve always been passionate about due to my work around mental health awareness and gender equality. There are different issues that affect women, from HIV, FGM (female genital mutilation), early childhood marriages and a range of other issues.
As a girl growing up in Ha-Masia village in the Vhembe District, I witnessed first-hand some of the struggles faced by many women and young people in under-developed regions across Southern Africa,” Musida said.
Affectionately known as Shudu, she added that lack of information and resources was still an issue in the villages of forgotten provinces of the country.
“Violence against women and girls can and does occur everywhere. I saw it in my village, and that’s why I say we must end it in all its forms, wherever it takes place, whether online, in the intimacy of one’s home, or as a weapon of war. Women and girls must be empowered with rights and choices if they are to realise their full potential,” she said.
UNFPA Regional Director for East and Southern Africa Lydia Zigomo said with the partnership, they will be growing more open about mental illness.
“Misunderstood, stigmatised and often left untreated, mental health has become a crisis. Together with partners like Shudu, we will intensify efforts to address the growing psychosocial needs and more openness about mental illness. By stepping up our support and removing the stigma surrounding mental health, especially for the youth, we can help lift the burden of trauma off the shoulders of those who have already suffered enough. Together, let’s put our young people, women and girls, first. Let us give them what they need for a sustainable future of health and well-being,” said Zigomo.
The violence experienced by young women is undermining many of the gains already made in sustainable development. Young people face a multitude of challenges, such as GBV, poverty, teen pregnancy, HIV, mental health and drug abuse. UNFPA South Africa Representative, Dr Bannet Ndyanabangi said they were excited about their partnership with former Miss South Africa.
“At puberty, untold numbers of girls see their prospects for a healthy, productive life fade. This thrusts them into a collision course of denied opportunities, diminished capacities, violated rights, poverty and unrealised potential. We welcome this exciting partnership with Shudu Musida, a formidable champion who will advocate for our UNFPA mandate areas.”
Her work with the organisation will include promoting the rights of women and girls and contributing to Africa’s Agenda 2063 which is a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years.