Girls from Egoli informal settlement in Philippi were given the opportunity to participate in an informative girls’ empowerment workshop led by ward councillor Elton Jansen and the City of Cape Town’s department of social development. The school holiday programme took place at Oasis Place in Schaapkraal Road from Tuesday to Friday. Jansen says the programme aimed to educate 50 girls between the ages of 12 and 16 on life skills, focusing specifically on sexual health, reproductive rights and self-concept. “The intention of this programme is to encourage these girls to make the right decisions in life, and to have dreams and to dream big. To show them their worth and that they matter, whether they come from an informal settlement or not,” he says.“In any informal settlement there are many challenges, and poverty is probably right on top of the list. I can only imagine the challenges these girls have to face, growing up in poverty. “Some, if not all of them, stay out of school when they have their monthly menstruation because they cannot afford something as basic as sanitary pads.” Jansen says he plans to have regular engagements with the youth and people from informal settlements and to find ways to empower them. “I don’t have all the answers to their problems, but I can motivate the youth to rise above their circumstances and make something out of their lives. “They can start with getting education and finishing school. “The majority of Cape Town’s residents are either Christian or Muslim. If we can just practise what our faiths teach us, I believe our society will be a much better place,” he adds.