16 Days Of Activism: Campaign empowers women financially to allow them to break the cycle of abuse

16 Days Of Activism: Campaign empowers women financially to allow them to break the cycle of abuse

Non-Governmental Organisation, Gender Links, believes many women return to their abusive situations because they are financially dependent on the men in their lives. 

Gender Links
Photo: Gender Link website

In an attempt to solve this problem, Gender Links is running the Sunrise Campaign during the 16 Days of Activism. The campaign mostly works with poorer women throughout Southern Africa to equip them with both life and entrepreneurial skills. 


Gender Links' Debbie Harris says the project has been a massive success.


"We've had a tremendous success rate. 66% of the women had successful businesses a year later. Their average income increase by something like R500 to R600 per month in that first year. But the biggest thing is 85% of them said they were experiencing less or no gender-based violence at home. This seems to be because the empowerment we give them during the programme enables the women to stand up for their rights. Contributing to the family's financial well-being also gives them a stronger bargaining position." 

It costs R15,000 for women to go through the year-long training programme that shown to reduce violence, increase income, agency and relationship control as well as uplift whole families. The Sunrise Campaign, piloted in ten Southern African countries over the last three years, aims to raise $100,000 over the next six weeks to extend the programme to another 1000 women in 2017. In South Africa, the campaign is supported by the Social Justice Initiative, that will match donations made by South Africans.


During the year-long course, the women are taught to identify possible gaps that exist in their local markets. Possible funding opportunities for the women are also identified, with the help of local municipal councils. 


Harris says Gender Links also provides mentorship programmes. 


"Our role is really to assist them in developing a business plan, and to then get that business plan funded and to move with that business plan." 

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