Yesterday and today we celebrate all the incredible women of our country.
The mothers, daughters, sisters and female friends who we look up to and love, that we respect and revere for their strength, kindness, beauty and tenacity.
But over these days we are also compelled to reflect upon all that has been brought to light in the past year that reveals the deeply troubling ways woman are still treated.
In keeping with our #sharethegood campaign, we thought that, rather than focusing on the negative, we’d share and showcase the positive.
So this week we wanted to round up and give recognition to organisations and individuals doing good work for South African women - and let you know how exactly you can support them.
With families across South Africa confined to their homes, the lockdown period saw reports of domestic abuse skyrocket. But groups like Sisters Incorporated are fighting back.
This incredible home has been providing support for over 60 years to women and their children who have been victims of domestic abuse.
The home offers everything from accommodation, counselling, legal assistance, childcare, classes and a skills training centre to women and their children.
How can you help?
You can also donate some basic items such as:
- Art & craft supplies
- Clothing and shoes
- Crockery, cutlery, dining utensils
or any of the other items featured on their list of needs.
While Sisters Incorporated is located in Cape Town, if you or someone you know is looking for refuge and a place to stay anywhere in the country - a full list and breakdown, province by province, of all the women's shelters available in South Africa and their contact details is available here.
The brutal rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana in August last year was a reminder of the violation of women’s bodies that happens every few minutes in our country.
But while Uyinene's life was so cruelly ended, organisations like the Jes Foord Foundation up in Kwazulu Natal are helping those who survive their assault to process and heal from the trauma of their experience.
Jes Foord was just 20 years old in 2008 when she was gang raped by a group of men at a dam in the Hillcrest area of Kwa-zulu Natal. Her dad, Tim, was beaten, bound and forced to watch.
Now, 12 years later, she has turned this unfathomably terrible experience into something good, with her foundation doing unbelievable work running multiple rape awareness programmes for young people.
And in the hope of helping rape survivors rebuild and take back their lives after their experiences, the Jes Foord Foundation also focuses on providing trauma counselling and essential care items.
This is done through an initiative is called The Handbag Project, where a new or used handbag is filled with various toiletries, underwear and notes of encouragement to be given to each survivor. To date, 54 450 have been sent out.
How can you help?
And if you're ever filling up at one of the BP garages in KZN listed here, quote the number “762” and the Jes Foord Foundation will receive 10c for every litre purchased.
If you're not in the KZN area and can't do either of these things, you can also donate money in various forms here.
Don't forget that if you or someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, you can call the 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline on 021 447 9762.
Most women would agree that feminine hygiene products should be free and provided by the government. Especially when you consider that 30% of girls are forced to miss school every month due to a lack of access to tampons and sanitary pads.
But because they are not, the people at the New Heritage Foundation are the ones working hard to make sure our female learners never miss a lesson.
The organisation helps to equip female educators across the country to provide menstrual hygiene education programmes.
Their aim is destigmatise menstruation, and to provide knowledge and training to both young girls and boys in primary/high schools across the country to effectively manage the subject with respect and dignity.
How can you help?
You can make a donation to the organisation here - or you can be part of their Sanitary Drive.
Simply put together and drop off a brightly wrapped box at your nearest Brights Hardware store containing all the items listed below (donations of any of these items individually is also welcome):
- 1 x Sanitary pads
- 1 x Roll on deodorant
- 1 x Bar soap
- Elastic bands for hair (colourful/girls)
- Something sweet
If you or anyone you know is looking for resources or projects to utilise for the purpose of menstrual health education, check out My Period is Awesome - a Swedish founded platform focusing on sexual and reproductive health and rights in African countries.
Access to learning is a fundamental right, and the opportunity that education can afford young women is immense. That's why groups like 18Twenty8 are working hard to get young women to graduation and beyond.
This NPO based in Gauteng develops strategies for the educational and personal development of women between the ages of 18 and 28, helping and encouraging them to pursue higher education as a tool for their empowerment.
18Twenty8 facilitate life skills workshops for girls at high schools in marginalised communities, and provides financial assistance for undergraduate young women, as well as a mentorship programme in the form of their Big Sister Network.
This project pairs one or more girls with a Big Sister from the organisation's network - a pool of educated, professional women established in their respective careers. These women guide their Little Sisters through their undergraduate studies by offering them advice and professional exposure.
Similarly, the Silibona Trust is a national organisation that is also providing financial assistance and mentoring support to disadvantaged students at university level, with an explicit preference for female candidates.
How Can You Help?
You can make a donation to the 18Twenty8 organisation by clicking here.
Alternatively, you can make a donation to the Silibona Trust here - and if you know someone looking for mentorship, or are keen to become a mentor yourself, you can get in touch with the Lucia (Cape Town) via firstname.lastname@example.org or Mandy (Durban) via email@example.com
If you or any woman that you know is looking for academic funding in various fields of study, check out the list of scholarships and bursaries that are available to females here through the South African Association of Women Graduates.
Futures are forever changed by giving women the skills and tools to reach their full potential.
And so it is heartening to know that there are some truly remarkable funding and incubator projects working to help women to pursue their dreams of being self sufficient and running their own businesses.
One of these is a women enterprise coaching programme run by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA). Taking place over 10 months, the coaching programme aims to develop the management competencies of owners and business managers, and also provide them with opportunity for networking.
The aim is to equip women-owned enterprises with knowledge, skills and tools needed to grow their businesses, guiding them through business operations and handholding them through strategic processes.
How Can You Help?
One of the simplest ways to help women in business and entrepreneurship is simply by supporting women-owned businesses. Make a conscious effort to buy from them, champion their products and recommend them to others.
The Female Entrepreneur SA business directory is a great place to start - simply browse the categories to find the kind of business you are looking for, and you'll find a woman-owned or run business that can service your needs.
If you or a woman you know is looking for funding to start her business, Small and Medium Enterprises South Africa recently released a list of all of the funding available for women to access, which you can find here.
There’s nothing more powerful than women coming together to support women - in business, in friendship and in our communities. That’s why initiatives and platforms that uplift and connect women with one another are so important.
One of these is called Bloom, founded in 2016 and the brainchild of businesswoman Nandi Dlepu’s creative agency Mamakashaka.
It’s an incredible resource and Instagram feed full of inspiration, serving as an empowering community for creative women, creative freelancers and creative entrepreneurs.
Bloom offers conferences, talks and masterclasses, which feature conversations and interviews with various female South Africans in the creative industry.
And for Women’s Day this year, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) has partnered with Bloom to celebrate the women who have played and continue to play an instrumental role in growing the legacy of the institution.
Bloom and BASA will produce Season 2 of ‘My First Mile’ - an online content series focused on business owners, featuring female founders and leaders whose businesses are in their first ten years of business.
The series will see female founders asked the same set of questions, to allow the audience members to draw parallels between each of those featured, in order to gain a greater appreciation of how success can follow many paths.
The project will have a focus on the creative sector, and will also include a webinar event on 31 August 2020.