During the height of the pandemic, plenty of opinions were flying around about Covid’s impact on learning and vaccines for children, says Wynberg teenager Brandi Ryland, and that, she adds, is why she and other child government monitors set out to document what the province’s children really felt about these issues.
Child government monitors like Brandi work with the Western Cape Commissioner for Children, Christina Nomdo. They share their lived realities with the commissioner to help her make recommendations about the needs, rights and interests of children in the province.
The monitors’ slogan is #littlevoicesmustcount. And that, says Brandi, is why loves the role.
“I had problems getting my voice heard in primary school,” she says. “I wanted to speak out on things I thought were wrong but it was pushed aside because I am a child. That’s why I agreed to be a child government monitor. This is an opportunity to give my opinion and have people listen.”
Ms Nomdo says child government monitors sign up to be child human-rights defenders.
Using their platform for social change, the young activists advocated in the media for the removal of the Kannaland mayor (and convicted child rapist) Jeffery Donson and made a submission to Parliament on the suitability of public representatives in high positions.
Her rigour for the role has seen Brandi promoted to the Advisory Council of the Child Commissioner, giving the 16-year-old Wynberg High School pupil opportunities to represent the child government monitor forum on other platforms. Last month, Brandi received a certificate from the University of Nottingham for her participation in their children’s right in strategic litigation advisory group.
She joined Premier Alan Winde and the children’s commissioner in live discussion on Stellenbosch University radio station Maties MFM, on Youth Day last year, and accompanied other monitors in presenting a submission on the Children’s Amendment Bill in Parliament.
“Brandi has already been selected by the commissioner’s team as a preferred candidate to represent the commissioner’s office on international platforms. She also holds strong views on gender equality, which is highly commendable, and is unafraid to challenge views which have no evidence base or which promote patriarchy,” says Ms Nomdo.