Trinity Student’s ‘Project for Peace’ Addresses Issues of Gender Inequality in South Africa

Kabelo Motsoeneng ’20 Gives Presentation on His Work to Eliminate Injustices Experienced by Women

​Hartford, Connecticut, October 31, 2017—At a recent Common Hour gathering at Trinity College’s Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS), human rights and English major Kabelo Motsoeneng ’20 discussed the findings of his research project, “The Gender Agenda Forum: Localizing Feminist Dialogues in Low-Income Communities in South Africa.” His research, which was supported with a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant, took place in June 2017, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

​Kabelo Motsoeneng ’20 (second from right) held workshops and conducted research in Johannesburg, South Africa, supported by a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant.
A native of South Africa, Motsoeneng explained that the organization he founded, the Gender Agenda Forum (GAF), “aims to localize critical feminist thought and action by bridging the existing information access gap in low-income communities in South Africa. Through targeted workshops, the forum addresses systematic and patriarchal violence, therefore contributing to peace.”

Motsoeneng said he considered the Gender Agenda Forum 2017 to be his opportunity to cultivate a shared passion for community engagement and help reshape discourse about feminism in South Africa. He also shed light on what sparked his involvement: “I looked at what was happening in South Africa with the issue of rape. It is a systematic thing that has not received enough consideration. There have been academic writings about the situation throughout the years, but there are no direct programs addressing why this is a problem.” Motsoeneng noted that working on this project reiterated for him the importance of eliminating injustices toward women.

As he began studying the topic, Motsoeneng noticed that the primary issue seemed to stem from discrepancies that exist regarding access to education. As his first research     question, he asked himself, “How do I work with young people who do not have access to this information and educate them and disseminate this knowledge?” To bridge the gap between academic research and the lives of real people, the GAF organized workshops for community members called “Addressing South Africa’s Rape Nightmare and the ‘Other.’” He said the opportunity to intervene, supported by the grant from Projects for Peace, came at a time of continued injustices and violence against women in South Africa, “with reports of at least two women, from low-income communities, and lesbian women, being raped and killed each day.”

According to Motsoeneng, the workshops involved teaching community members with varying degrees of literacy. He said the project focused on low-income communities and involved relaying the information in a manner that is understandable. “I wanted to educate students on what rape is and what choices, options, and assistance they have regarding resources to help them,” he said. The work that Motsoeneng has performed through the Gender Agenda Forum is a reflection of his having been raised in South Africa, he said, which gives him a greater understanding and empathy for the community. The exposure to injustices against women has sparked a motivation to educate and inform, and Motsoeneng said he has many plans for future programs to help him carry out this initiative in its fullest form.

Projects for Peace is an initiative for college students that was launched in 2007 by philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis on her 100th birthday. The opportunity to apply for Projects for Peace funding is open to all students attending higher education institutions that participate in the Davis United World College Scholars Program. For more information about submitting a Projects for Peace proposal at Trinity College, administered through CUGS for the last 10 years, click here.

Written by Kyle M. McGrath ’18