International Women’s Day may be just around the corner (March 8) but here at Cotton On Foundation, we’re for girls all year ‘round. Now, more than ever there is a strong call-to-action to #pressforprogress. To join the movement, we’re shining a light on women who inspire us every day.

Gabisile Cecilia Zulu (Gabi) is the Head Teacher at Cotton On Foundation supported Primary School, Ethekwini in Durban, South Africa. With almost 30 years of teaching at Ethekwini, Gabi has a passion for education and positive change.

Growing up locally in the Kwamashu Township, Gabi has a sturdy understanding of the local landscape and community. Education has always been a substantial part of Gabi’s life, noting that her own schooling gave her an opportunity to strive and stand out; it has given her “independence, self-reliance and the opportunity to further develop as a person.”

The appreciation of education was ongoing beyond her schooling, attaining a Primary Teachers Diploma, Higher Diploma in Education-Remedial Education, B.Ed. honors in Education Management and Post Graduate Diploma in Education Management at the Mpumalanga College of Education.

“I wanted to be knowledgeable, personally developed and independent. I wanted to make a change in my community and to gain financial independence.”

It comes at no guess that Gabi describes teaching as her calling. “I was so inspired by my parents who were both teachers, with my father becoming a school inspector. I have always had an urge to guide, support and educate other people.”

Being first employed as a new graduate at Ethekwini Primary School in 1990, Gabi says she was “quite ecstatic about the opportunity as it was a school in my neighbourhood and I felt like it was a chance to give back to my community by enriching the minds of their kids with knowledge.” Being one of the only Primary School female principals in the area is something Gabi attributes to be one of her many successful achievements throughout her career.

“My goal in life is to empower people, especially those who are underprivileged and teach them values and inspire about life.”

We asked Gabi, what are the most important pieces of advice you would give to young girls in school and she left us with a few points to remember…

  1. Education is the key to success.
  2. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion and always believe in yourself.
  3. With education you can change the world.
  4. Have Ubuntu (a local word for compassion and humanity).
  5. As a young girl my humble request to you is BE THE GAME CHANGER, the world awaits you.


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