Social Development — Itumeleng Komanyane
Itumeleng Komanyane started her activism at the tender age of 13. Today, she has 20 years of experience working on HIV, youth leadership and gender issues.
Komanyane currently manages a programme on gender justice operating in 17 countries, which benefits over 200 organisations in Africa. She is vice-chair of the Africa Regional Civil Society Advisory Group to UN Women, a fellow of the Australian Africa Aid programme, as well as a board member of the Men Engage Global Alliance.
Talking about her achievements, Komanyane says “the most impact I have has been around issues of youth leadership, prevention of HIV in young people, gender justice and most importantly, furthering the dream of every African child — to become a force to reckon with both at home and in the global space.”
Her impact started when she served as peer educator, counsellor and board member to the YWCA flagship programme PACT (Peer Approach to Counselling by Teenagers) from 1993 to 2002.
The programme was implemented in many schools throughout Botswana, and touched the lives of thousands of youth.
From 2002 until 2007, Komanyane was involved in various HIV prevention initiatives in the country. She represented Botswana on global platforms, calling for cost effective access to antiretroviral treatment for HIV patients, and serving as a youth representative for various projects on sexual reproductive health, such as the African Youth Alliance.
From 2008, Komanyane managed a four-country project on orphans and vulnerable children in southern Africa, which benefitted over 45 000 children.
Until 2011, she was responsible for programme management, staff development and resource mobilisation for the sustainability of the programme. She was recognized for her work with an award for youth leadership and personal development in 2002, and a Thari ya Sechaba Award in 2011.
Today, Komanyane is the international programmes manager for Sonke Gender Justice and Men Engage Africa, supporting activism work within 19 countries, including Botswana.
Komanyane says, “I manage a multimillion-dollar grant and am responsible for implementation of work in all the countries, representing gender issues at global platforms like the United Nations, and regional structures like the African Union and SADC. I manage an amazing team of young people whom I mentor, and dedicate time to their personal development and career progression.”
In regard to her being a role model for other young Batswana, Komanyane says she hopes they can learn to fly and realize that only the sky is the limit.