Women of Worth aims to build bridges

The Women of Worth programme will be running a range of exciting empowerment workshops for 10 000 young women between the ages of 19 and 24 years in the Mitchell’s Plain and Klipfontein area.

The organisation, in partnership with the provincial government and the Desmond Tutu Foundation, will offer the young women life skills, guidance, opportunities and knowledge to propel them successfully into adulthood.

Project co-ordinator Amy Wilmot said the Women of Worth programme is a component of the Zimele Project, which is a multi-dimensional outreach initiative. The programme is funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

“Overall this includes the reduction of HIV incidence and unwanted pregnancy, and increasing access to educational and economic opportunities. Zimele is a unique marrying of government, community and NGO forces to impact on the adolescents of a specific community, in the hope that this will be effective in transforming the community as a whole in a sustainable way,” she said.

The Women of Worth programme will specifically provide monthly educational empowerment workshops that focus on topics such as “Business Skills to Beauty”, “Pregnancy to PrEP,” “CV’s to Contraceptives”, and “Sex to Self-defence”.

“This is an opportunity for us to bridge the gap between the community and the clinics for our Women of Worth, as we try to impact women of today and the mothers of the next generation. These workshops will not be another life orientation lesson, but will make use of a strong participatory and discussion process, dealing with issues and thoughts that are most relevant to the modern young woman,” she said.

Ms Wilmot said the workshops will provide knowledge and practical skills for professional and personal situations. She said joining this programme will give a woman additional access to a centralised work and resource centre, a large new support network of peers and organisations, and numerous opportunities to learn, grow, and take control of their own reality.

Ms Wilmot said the workshops will be held in various community venues in Mitchell’s Plain and Klipfontein, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Crossroads and Philippi.

“There are 10 000 women in total, but each workshop will only host a smaller group of 24 women. Women will be assigned to a venue within their own area so that it is convenient for them to attend the workshop and will cost minimal to no transport fees,” she said.

Ms Wilmot said the workshops will be held once a month for 12 months. All 12 workshops need to be attended in order for the participant to graduate from the programme.

Ms Wilmot said other Zimele programmes will also include Soul Buddyz Clubs in primary schools, a health education programme for teenage girls in high schools and Rise Clubs for women both in and out of school, among other smaller programmes.

“Women of Worth focuses specifically on young women (aged 19 to 24 years) who are transitioning into adulthood, starting their careers and becoming mothers. However, as a result of regressive gender norms, high rates of gender-based violence and low economic opportunities, these young women also sit with the highest risk of contracting HIV,” she said.

Ms Wilmot said evidence has shown that an effective mode of intervention in these circumstances can be the implementation of an incentive and care programme.

“The provision of cash incentives, which will be offered to half of the 10, 000 Women of Worth participants can help alleviate some economic barriers; while care in the form of empowerment workshops can provide the guidance, information and skills required for upliftment,” she said.

Ms Wilmot said the use of cash incentives has been shown to decrease HIV incidence in various African populations, with significantly greater reductions in HIV incidence seen when cash is combined with care.

For more information contact the organisation on 021 650 7921.