By Abubaker Abrahams
The Departments of Economic Opportunities and Social Development in the Western Cape have announced a ground-breaking women empowerment initiative. The announcement was made at Sisters Incorporated, one of the social development department’s funded shelters for abused women.
In a study done by the World Health Organization, it was found that 60,000 women and children are victims of domestic violence in South Africa. It is hard to gather accurate statistical data in South Africa because domestic violence is rarely reported but these shelters will definitely be an opportunity for abused woman to restart their lives to a better one.
Western cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde said the programme would support a network of sixteen shelters for abused women.
“Women that are abused get relieved from society from all the pressures and they get hidden away in these shelters and then they need to rebuild their lives,” he said.
The initiative will provide skills, training and economic opportunities to 310 women currently with the Western Cape government’s 16 funded shelters for abused women. A referral pathway will be developed through the DSD Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP).
Through this joint initiative, the Western Cape Government seeks to help abused women break the cycle of economic dependence on the very persons who may be abusing them. The Women Empowerment Initiative will achieve this by empowering women with the skills and training that enables them to find employment or start their own businesses.
“This partnership will create a pathway to economic opportunities for women at shelters. Our number one goal is the creation of opportunities for growth and jobs, and we are committed to expanding access to our programmes to all residents,” said Winde.
“Through this initiative, I would like to see us connecting more residents to facilities such as our Barn Khayelitsha and the ICAN (Interactive Community Access Network) centre in Elsies River. To ensure that aspiring businesswomen have access to the support they need, we will also link them to our Emerging Business Support Programme. It is my hope that we are able to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the women, and their families.”
With August earmarked as Women’s Month in South Africa, Winde urged the public to report crime and gender based violence for quick responsive action. While much more is expected from government to protect women against the dangers in society but Winde explained these shelters will provide women with a positive environment to restart their lives. VOC