By Reneé Thompson, Co-Founder of Susters 4 Life & Managing Director of Thompson Trust
Achieving Equality for Women in SA
Over the past decade, the women’s empowerment movement in South Africa has gained momentum, with civil society playing an increasingly important role in achieving equality. While women in South Africa have made significant progress in the area of employment, housing, education and health, they continue to face serious gender-based violence at the hands of their intimate partners, including non-family members. This violence results in a high prevalence of STIs and unwanted pregnancy, often leaving women unable to reach their full potential in life.
One of the best ways to help women is to give them the tools they need to make decisions for themselves. Many young people today are truly passionate about doing good things for others, and achieving equality for all. They want to make a positive impact on their communities and societies. This can be demonstrated through volunteering or direct fundraising activities.
Susters for Life: A Case Study
My NGO, Susters for Life, is actively engaging in shaping policy, programming, and fund-raising with a specific focus on improving the lot of women and children. We collaborate with many other NGOs in the Western Cape and often pool resources to assist communities. With the onset of COVID-19, all NGOs in the Western Cape joined a WhatsApp group, where we shared resources, asked for assistance and referred those in need to no’s in their communities.
Susters for Life works tirelessly to assist women and girls in South Africa who find themselves at risk of violence, sexual exploitation and poverty. We provide free education on women’s rights, entrepreneurial workshops and health topics as well as shelter and livelihood support for affected families. As a non-governmental organisation, our only limit is our vision: to empower women and girls to realise their innate potential, so that we can all live free from fear.
Our mission of Susters is to empower and encourage all women and girls living in South Africa to achieve their full human potential and achieve economic freedom. Through our projects and activities, we seek to empower women in a manner which enables them to realise their dreams, fulfil their aspirations and lead better lives.
It’s important to focus on women and the youth in order to create a better future for us all. As an organisation that seeks to empower women and children, our key focus areas are: economic empowerment, social inclusion and justice, youth empowerment, sustainability and investment, and child health. As well as our core activities in South Africa, we also work with partners from around the world to empower women and children in other countries where there is need.
Working Towards Women Empowerment
It is crucial that we look at the way in which organisations working in the areas of development, aid and women’s empowerment are addressing these issues from their office desks and not on the ground. From the sector-backed organisations, to the national government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), we assess the current state of play regarding women’s empowerment in South Africa, using a combination of fieldwork and in-depth research. We strive to highlight current gaps in policy and practice in order to spur on action to remedy them. Our priority areas are: empowering women in rural areas; reducing gender-based violence; empowering adolescent girls.
We believe in the empowerment of all people and believe that every woman deserves the chance to achieve financial freedom through self-help and ownership of their own destiny. Through our work and our network, we aim to build catalytic change that will bring about a change in South Africa; permanently eliminate gender violence; provide economic opportunity and growth; improve the quality of life for all; and support all families.
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