Today, many argue that education is the closest thing that exists to a silver bullet for breaking the cycle of poverty. Not only can a formal education provide people with the tools they need to attain financial stability, it can also empower those who break out of poverty to "pay it forward" and give back to their communities.
The International Women's Day is globally marked on the 8th of March. This year, 2017, the Women's Day is commemorated under the theme "Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030".
The marking of the women's day commemoration is coinciding with the 6th – 10th of March 2017 UNESCO Week for Peace and Sustainable Development with focus on The Role of Education. The event is being held in Ottawa, Canada.
Humana People to People South Africa over the years has been part of the numerous efforts helping women to cross the gender divide, overcome cultural barriers and achieve gender equity. The strength of empowering women is based on the vision and consensus that literate women are well positioned to break-through in life as they make better decisions on family health, earn better income and generally live a better life. Thus the role of women in education is much prominent as the women hold a key position in the growth and nurturing of children's lives.
The idea of the theme, Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030, is to consider how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal number 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and number 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. The theme will also focus on new commitments under UN Women's Step It Up initiative, and other existing commitments on gender equality, women's empowerment and women's human rights.
Some key targets of the 2030 Agenda:
• By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.
• By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.
• End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
• Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
As we celebrate the International Women's Day on the 8th of March, we would like to share with you some of the interesting women centered actions Humana People to People South Africa is actively involved with. Enjoy the briefings below:
Training Girls to become Preschool Teachers & earn Life Skills
Humana People to People South Africa is committed to ensuring gender equality as an organization as well as within its processes of carrying out development efforts. The employment policy favours a 50-50 gender representation. The same goes for the students who get scholarships to attend Preschool Teacher Training College at KwaZulu Natal Experimental College.
Involving families and communities in securing girls' education is essential to closing the education equity gap. That is why Humana People to People South Africa is working in communities across KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Free State to ensure that girls are educated as a means to break the cycle of poverty. Humana People to People South Africa knows that when girls are educated, they earn 12 - 25% more income.
Empowering Young Women and Girls in South Africa
According to the South African government statistics, in 2015 an estimated 266,000 South Africans became infected with HIV, and each week, there are an estimated 2,000 new HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women aged 15 to 24 years.
"In South Africa, young women and girls aged between 15 and 24 have an unequal risk of becoming infected with HIV. Intergenerational sex is seen as a key driver of the spread of HIV in the country, despite continued efforts and commitment to preventing new infections. Effectively preventing new infections in young women and girls is very complex.
Programmes holistically targeting gender-power disparity, low levels of risk perception, peer pressure to have sex and bear children, and low levels of self-esteem and future prospects must be considered when programming, in addition to the traditional prevention messaging for this key population. Reducing HIV incidence in young women and girls requires a multi-pronged, multi-level approach." - South Africa National AIDS Council.
Humana People to People South Africa is currently running a Young Women and Girls Program (YWG) across 3 provinces; Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga. The program provides a comprehensive package of health and support services for young women, out of school, aged 19-24 years.
Using the RISE Young Women and Soul Buddyz clubs model, the programme aims to empower young women to make healthy choices that promote their wellbeing, promote behaviour change, and encourage them to access Sexual and Reproductive Health services and other relevant social services. The programme also seeks to improve the work-seeker readiness of young women in the programme and link them to job or training opportunities.
Humana People to People has come to note that, though access to quality education and women's empowerment is crucial to achieving equity, it cannot stand alone. The world need to continue to work more to break down the societal barriers of discrimination and oppression of women. Only then will we be able to achieve true equity in education for men and women across the globe.
Empowering Women to be Food Secure
In South Africa agriculture is comprised of mainly two categories of farmers - the small-scale farmers and the large-scale commercial (mainly man) farmers. The concept of "small-scale farmers" is usually value-laden and is often viewed in a negative light. Small-scale farmers are often equated with a backward, nonproductive, non-commercial, subsistence agriculture that we find in rural communities.
Women play a vital role in rural farming which in turn plays a vital role in the progression of the family economically and the family's food supply. Despite the effort made by women in this regard, they are usually faced with lack of access to productive resources, technologies, services and markets.
Through the Farmers' Clubs, Humana People to People in South Africa resolves these setbacks that the women face in their mission to support their families through farming. The program which has 68% of the farmers being women focuses on empowering the farmers, coordinating and equip them with modern sustainable skills to improve their production.
In the 3 years of operation Farmers' Clubs has seen the 400 farmers in the program improve their yields by 10%. This has boosted their families' food security and income as they have enough crop to sell for income.
Nonyameko is a 41 year old woman from Quinani South in Eastern Cape, South Africa. She is married and has 6 children. With her newly improved farming skills and knowledge gained from her Project Leader she now not only has enough food to feed her family, but also sells produce as a means of income.
"My husband and I did not have jobs. So I joined Farmers' Clubs in July 2012 where I enrolled as a farmer and received training in conservation and agriculture which helped me to start planting vegetables again. I now have enough vegetables to feed my family and even sell my spinach, cabbage and beans for an income," says Nonyameko.
While women's role in agricultural production helps guarantee self-sustenance, it is not enough to cover other needs. Considering that preventable diseases and epidemics like HIV & AIDS and TB pose a major challenge in rural farming communities, Farmers' Clubs women and families are supported with information on health, hygiene and healthy nutrition advice.
Wandile stays with her 6 grandchildren. She had seven children; however two of them sadly passed away due to TB and Cancer. Since her husband also passed away in 2004, Wandile has really been struggling to make a living.
"I am happy I joined Farmers' Clubs because we are now working in our groups, our demo garden is looking good and it has encouraged me a lot. The Project Leader has played a crucial role in motivating us and that has taught me a lot about the different issues affecting our community. She trained farmers in health and hygiene so that we can take care of our families," explains Wandile.
"I have started planting different vegetables in my backyard such as potatoes, cabbage, spinach and onion. In the past I had to buy vegetables in faraway markets, now I have my own vegetable garden and that money is being saved while I eat well and sell the surplus."
The Farmers' Clubs programme furthermore places emphasis on environmental management and sustainability, organic agriculture as well as educating farmers on topics such as global warming and climate change.
Farmers' Clubs recognizes that by empowering women farmers with skills and support it can increase their income, develop a stable rural livelihood and contribute to ensure food security in their families and the community.
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