Tsakane is a small township just outside Ekurhuleni, South Africa. There are extremely high rates of gender inequality and violence which have been pushing female rights to the margins of society, profoundly impacting the quality of life for women and girls.  

Lebogang Mokoena is an 18-year-old girl that is familiar with these hardships. She attends Buhlebemfundo Secondary school in Tsakane and had been living with her grandmother in a corticated-iron, one-bedroom shack since she was 11. Life had been hard for Lebogang, with little sense of direction or purpose for her life and even fewer opportunities to achieve it.  

But the Gauteng Women’s Rugby Institute (GWRI) is helping to change this. Lebogang has been supplied with female hygiene products, rugby boots and nutritious meals, as well as a renewed motivation and empowerment from the GWRI programme. The programme has not just offered a career in sport, but has provided emotional support and guidance in times of grief and difficulty for Lebogang; sadly, in June 2022 Lebogang lost her grandmother. This difficult and sad time for her was made easier with the support of the GWRI and her teammates, giving Lebogang space to grieve while still never losing hope or giving up. 

Lebogang has learnt how to transform her grief into motivation, playing rugby with a passion and drive that earnt her a selection for her under-18 provincial team, which competed in the national week, and her under-20 Valke team, which competed in the YTC Junior Springbok trials.  

With her hard work on the field and in the classroom, she is now set to receive a scholarship to study at a tertiary institute later this year. Lebogang is an example of the empowerment girls and young women receive from the GWRI’s programme. The girls are provided support and direction, being offered help to help themselves and guidance as they transform their own lives. The Atlas Foundation is proud to support and partner with the GWRI to continue supporting Lebogang in the next stages of her life.