iGirls Friendly Society South Africa
According to research GFS was established in South Africa in 1900 and was started in the big cities such as Cape Town, George, Port Elizabeth, East London, Pietermaritzburg, Durban, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein. Its aim was to give young women a home within the Anglican Church which looked at developing them spiritually. GFS was not inclusive of blacks then as it was the time of the apartheid regime. GFS worldwide made an appeal for inclusion of all races and it was then referred to the then Transkei as mentioned in the referral letter that “you can contact the Transkei Anglican Bishop and that is the place where they can find black women who can be members of GFS". The then Bishop struggled to put black people in leadership position as he was also a white bishop and it was against the laws of white people to be in the same meetings with black people. The pressure resulted in the closure of all GFS branches in South Africa in 1955 and the funds were not transferred to Transkei instead were utilized by different projects of which in Port Elizabeth funds were used to build a GFS Chapel and extending St Paul's church at Parson’s Hill.
GFS worldwide navigated its way and drilled deeper to the GFS World Council delegation problems in the then diocese of St John's now known as the Diocese of Mthatha still pushing for non-racial GFS. Eventually the Diocese of St Johns continued establishing branches but could not be represented in World Council until such time the international world put pressure on them. A black lady was nominated to represent GFS in the World Council. GFS branches were only in the then independent state of Transkei. After independence black people were free to move all over South Africa, black ladies re-established branches in big cities as we now have GFS in 12 dioceses and is spreading and growing in numbers.
In 1992, a decision was taken for boys to be included in GFS and this was delegated to a priest to develop guidelines that will incorporate boys to the Girls Friendly Society hence in South Africa it is now called “Girls Friendly Society & Boys Friendly Society ‘’(GFS & BFS). The view of GFS South Africa is that one cannot curb Gender Based Violence if girls and boys are not raised under the same values. The Diocese of Mthatha statistics on its own reflects that it has 3014 members and of that number 399 are boys.
1999 was the highlight for South Africa when we hosted the World Council Meeting which was addressed by the world icon and the then President of South Africa, Mr Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela. The then World President Mrs Nobantu Makunga made the event memorable by taking it back to the Diocese of Mthatha where all the ground work started.
As 2017 - 2020 has been declared as the Year of the Young, our training programs are focusing on Gender Based Violence, Social Entrepreneurship, Worshiping and taking care of the Environment.
Because of the COVID19 pandemic, GFS South Africa hosted the World Council, virtually, in July 2021, rounding the World GFS work from 2017-2020.
The World Council extended the South African team of office from 2017-2023. GFS South Africa is grateful for the 1st time in the3 history of the organisation from 1875 as this is rotational. This shown the confidence of the world to South African administration.
The programs of a holistically development of the young mind continues.
The Triennial GFS World Council will be hosted in Johannesburg by GFS South Africa from 3 to 11 August 2023. The current GFS World administration remains in Johannesburg under the leadership of Ms Thembeka Pama, the GFS Worldwide President.
President GFS/BFS : Ms Zanele Ntenetyana