Convened by:


Youth Activism: A Call for Climate and Social Justice

Live panel discussion featuring 


Brenda_Skelenge.PNGBrenda Skelenge, Leaps Development and Advocacy Services

A driven social entrepreneur based in Cape Town, Brenda recently founded Leaps Development and Advocacy, a Microsoft Accredited Education Partner offering “cradle-to-career” educational support services and focused on finding creative solutions for using inclusive technologies to bridge learning gaps as well as for schools without access to online-based resources. 

Brenda previously worked as a youth development consultant for various NGOs and has both studied and worked in various multicultural settings, whether as a special needs teacher, facilitator, or a tech-literacy skills trainer. From her experience in community and scholar development, she has been exposed to developing multidisciplinary interventions combining adolescent addiction issues in black communities while bridging cultural divides and learning gaps though adult language facilitation, remedial teaching and creative arts. 

Merging her passion for youth development with culture and creativity, Brenda’s current work focuses on supporting school communities and in and out-of-school youth by combining digital skills and art and creativity as a way to bridge learning gaps and put education at the center of community building. This provides her with invaluable insights in providing a holistic and community-based model of educational support while engaging youth in difficult social situations and working with them to reimagine their social circumstances. 


Patricia_Matolengwe.pngPatricia Matolengwe, South African Homeless People’s Federation 

Patricia Matolengwe arrived in Cape Town from the Transkei in 1982 at age 27. Mother to a young daughter, she had passed Standard 9 (Grade 11) in the Transkei, and later attended the University of the Western Cape, studying for the Advanced Certificate for Educators of Adults. 

Patricia began organizing for the People’s Dialogue (PD) in 1992, and soon became the Western Cape Co-coordinator. She initiated the Victoria Mxenge Housing Savings Scheme, was politically active in the African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL), and in 1994 became the regional co-coordinator for the Western Cape for the South African Homeless People’s Federation (Federation). By 1998, she had won an award from the United Nations Development Programme and was a leading member of the National Federation. 

A skilled negotiator with significant experience working with government, Patricia has remained the co-coordinator of the Savings Schemes and a leading member in the regional Ufundu Zufes since she began the Victoria Mxenge Housing Development Association (VM) Savings Group in the early ninties. She serves as an advisor to the national government on the People’s Housing Process project relating to subsidy application forms and has been prominent in talks with the Western Cape Housing Board on the release of subsidies. 

Patricia is highly respected for her conflict resolution skills and has solved many community disputes over land, title deeds, subsidies, and personal issues. In 2003, she was a member of Cape Town’s mayoral task team on housing and became the savings and loans co-coordinator for the PD. In her extensive work in housing, she has also learned some building skills, such as mixing cement, mapping, house design and drawing house plans. She has been on many international, national, regional and local exchange visits and has a deep understanding of community issues. 

Adenike_Oladosu.jpgAdenike Oladosu, Eco-feminist and Youth Climate Activist (Nigeria) 

Adenike Titilope Oladosu is a 25-year old Nigerian climate activist, eco-feminist and founder of the "I Lead Climate" campaign advocating for the restoration of Lake Chad. She specializes in equality, security and peace building across Africa, especially in the Lake Chad region, and initiated the Fridays For Future movement in Nigeria. 

A recipient of Amnesty International’s Ambassadors of Conscience award, Adenike was also recognized by Greenpeace UK as one of three prominent young black climate activists in Africa trying to save the world, alongside Vanessa Nakate (Uganda) and Elizabeth Wathuti (Kenya). 

In 2019, she was invited to the inaugural United Nations Youth Climate Summit and named by the Human Impact Institute (USA) as one of 12 women taking climate action in rural communities. She has showcased her dedication to climate action in several international conferences from COP25 – where she gave a "moving address" about climate change in Africa and how it affects lives – World Economic Forum events, and the Global Landscape Forum, to several national and local events.  

Adenike led several community projects during her yearlong service to her homeland of Nigeria, serving as the Vice President of SDGs and the UN Global Goals in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Furthermore, through her movement, she has started the green accord in the bid for countries to localize international agreements and collaborations for meaningful outcomes and implementation. 

Ayakha_Melithafa.jpgAyakha Melithafa, Youth Climate Activist (South Africa)

Ayakha Melithafa is an 18-year-old Grade 12 student at the Centre of Science and Technology in Khayelitsha. This year alone, Ayakha received the Charlotte Mannya Maxeke Institute’s Women of Firsts Award and was nominated as one of South Africa’s Most Powerful Women by the Mail and Guardian for her role as a young climate justice activist. 

Her activism has seen her represent youth voices from the global south on various national and international platforms including the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland alongside world-renowned youth climate activists like Greta Thunberg. 

Her mission is help address the greatest ecological crisis of our time and enable leaders to deepen their understanding of complex issues, shape new models and standards and drive scalable, collaborative action for systemic change. 

She has worked as a recruitment official and spokesperson for the African Climate Alliance, a youth-led climate advocacy group that organised the #climatestrike protests in Cape Town in collaboration with more than a million youths around the world. She is also a graduate of Project 90 by 2030’s YouLead Initiative. 

This fierce young woman has called for an immediate moratorium on the extraction of coal, oil and gas in South Africa and she recently made headlines when she joined Greta Thunberg and other teens from across the world in petitioning the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to hold five of the world’s leading economic powers accountable for inaction on the climate crisis. 

Ayakha hopes to inspire more South African youth voices towards addressing key issues on creating a sustainable, low carbon future and to put pressure on big emitters to stop blocking global climate action; exert pressure on South Africa to reduce its own emissions and plan a just transition; and encourage South African leaders and policymakers to lead Africa in pushing the world towards ambitious climate action. 




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