A few words sum up the world of Nondumiso (Noni) Hlophe: a social advocate, consultant and writer from the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland).
In 2009 whilst still a student, it dawned on her that women, particularly of colour, faced a society that prescribed stereotypical conventions for women. Led by passion (and her strongest marks at university), she said that international relations chose her, a passion that she had chanelled into her career in this typically male-dominated field.
She holds an Honours degree in Political and International Studies from Rhodes University. She noticed early that – at first glance – women were taken less seriously. Hlophe has over the years thrived on defying prejudices and stereotypes, to unabashedly inspire other young women to be the best they can.
“As a young Black African woman from the Kingdom of Eswatini, I have been met with many questions, many stereotypes and by minds who have decided who I am and what I represent before I have even had the opportunity to introduce myself,” Hlophe says.
She added, “My mind enjoys the challenge of shifting those expectations, my heart enjoys being led by the passion that I have for education, gender equality, empowering youth and navigating how to make an impact that is felt on those issues. Most of all, I recognise the influence behind my words, that they can be used for good and I do my best every day to do so.”
Hlophe was named an inaugural Queen’s Young Leader Award winner – an honour bestowed on her by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015 – for her history of volunteerism and leadership in the Commonwealth.
She is also an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society. Her interaction with children and young people, especially people differently-abled, has been her biggest motivator towards affecting change in the education sector.
As a social advocate, Hlophe served an executive body of Amnesty International South Africa in 2009; has been a One Young World Ambassador since 2011 and is the Founding Curator of the Global Shapers Community: Mbabane Hub (an initiative of the World Economic Forum), a registered Non-Profit Organisation in Eswatini.
The Mbabane Hub’s most recent impact projects have addressed sexual reproductive health rights, the stigma of HIV and AIDS and mental health issues, utilising peer education and workshops on challenging issues for youth in Eswatini.
She was an African Union-European Union Youth Plug-In Initiative (AUEUYPII) fellow and she currently serves in the Young Women’s Alliance which is committed to advocacy, impact and policy reform addressing gender equality, in her country.
Her advice to the young is, “Dream audaciously. Set goals specifically geared towards achieving your wildest dreams. Start. Start small and lead with passion, with an overarching intention to do good in the world.”