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AfricaMoney | August 22, 2017

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Women’s education and economic empowerment in Southern Africa

Women’s education and economic empowerment in Southern Africa

NGO Gender Links conducted an Entrepreneurship Training Programme in 100 councils of ten Southern African countries, including Mauritius, to empower women and reduce incidence of gender based violence. (Image: Compete Africa)

In order to empower women, NGO Gender Links conducted an Entrepreneurship Training Programme in 100 councils of ten Southern African countries, including Mauritius, with the aim of empowering these women to increase their independence.
Women attending the workshop were taught a combination of practical life and entrepreneurial skills as well as basic business concepts and IT knowledge.
However, the success of the entrepreneurship programmes and economic empowerment depends on quality and access to basic education. To illustrate, 46% of the 64 survivors of gender based violence who attended the entrepreneurship training in Mauritius were illiterate and 54% did not even have functional literacy.
Hence, to enable the participants to grasp different concepts, the workshop was conducted orally and pictures were used.
In Mauritius, female literacy level is 88% and there are more women than men attending tertiary level education. Many children are not able to learn basic concepts in their home languages due to language barriers in the education system, and this has a direct effect on functional literacy.
A related study by the NGO identified financial independence as an effective tool for empowering women and ensuring they do not fall victim to such unfortunate issues as gender based violence (GBV).
Also, education has been identified as another important tool to fight GBV, the study notes.
Women are more prone to all kinds of domestic violence and are less financially independent if the level of education they received is low, thus two key elements to fight GBV are first, to improve education levels, and second, the economic status of women.
The study also reveals the percentage of women who experienced gender violence at least once in their lifetime across countries in Southern Africa.
Zambia comes across as the worst in Southern Africa in terms of women empowerment, with at least 89% women having experienced GBV at least once. Lesotho and Botswana both follow close on its heels at 86% and 68%, while Mauritius, at 24%, is the best of a bad lot.
In Limpopo 77% of women are victim of gender violence, Western Cape is at 45%, Gauteng stands at over 51% while Kwazulu Natal has 36% women falling victim to GBV.
Also, in Mauritius, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia and South Africa, emotional violence is the most common form of abuse.
These women do not have a choice except to stay in such relationships and bear the abuse because they are not independent economically, the report concludes.

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