This project was made possible by the generous support of Action for World Solidarity, Medica Mondiale and Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.
Time frame: October 2005 - May 2006
Total number of workshops conducted: 20
Total number of attendees: 526 people.
This is approximate because a few participants did not complete our registration form at each workshop, for different reasons including in rural areas some people are not able to write and may be embarrassed to admit this in public.
Available on request from each workshop are original handwritten participant registration lists and individual evaluation forms.
Communities and Partners :
Workshops were held in the following communities:
Bellville; Blue Downs; Cravenby; Elsies River; Hanover Park; Kasselsvlei
Khayelitsha; Montagu; Muizenberg; Parow; Pretoria; Ravensmead; Salt River
Vrygrond; and Wellington.
These workshops were in partnership with the following local organisations:
Age in Action; Badisa; Bellville Muslim Women's Group; Crystal High School
Democratic Nurses’ Association of South Africa (DENOSA)
Hagley Community Development Organisation; Hanover Park High School
Haven shelter; Life Centre NGO; Migrant Women’s Group;
SA National Civics Organisation (SANCO); She-chem Women’s Support Group; Siyazenzela; and Women’s Support Group (WSG).
Description of workshops:
Most of the trainings were in communities, especially urban communities, deprived of any services or trainings. Hence the need and referrals to other follow-up service provision (such as women’s shelters, legal and health services) were immensely appreciated by participants and local organisers.
Each of the groups identified further training needs specifically on HIV & AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), on dealing with substance abuse (especially alcohol and TIK, an amphetamine), as well as further training on the Domestic Violence Act and gender violence in general. Many participants needed legal, health and counselling referrals, amongst other needs.
The 1st training was held in Wellington, convened by the South African National Civics Organisation (SANCO), with several different NGOs, service providers, and community leaders. Participants were largely community leaders and organisers, with many of them formally unemployed or under-employed as seasonal farmworkers.
Migrant Women's Group, Salt River
The 2nd training was requested by a migrant community organiser, for under-serviced migrant women across Cape Town, a community, like most in Cape Town, in which generic and gender violences are rife. They called themselves Dufatanye Migrant Women’s Group, and Engender advised them on how to formalise their group, and register themselves with the Non-Profit Directorate as an NGO. Participants were service providers as well as community leaders or volunteers, with a wide range of educational levels.
Participants came from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, and spoke different African languages due to their origins in different African countries, which further enriched the group exchanges and dynamics. Volunteers translated the facilitator’s English into French, Portuguese, and other African languages.
The 3rd and 5th trainings were with the Cravenby Women’s Support Group (WSG), which included local women’s shelter workers and other service providers, community leaders and a few unemployed community volunteers. It was most participants’ first ever training, and they especially appreciated being educated about abuse, and requested numerous follow-up trainings. This group displayed significant interpersonal conflict, so the facilitator used the discord to engender essential personal and group transformations, and thus build community and cohesiveness, and empower the group and individuals.
She-Chem WSG, Hanover Park
The 4th training was requested by 2 Rape Crisis volunteers, who work with their local community of Hanover Park as She-Chem WSG. They asserted that no trainings at all, let alone on gender and empowerment, have been offered to or in Hanover Park since the early 1990s. They arranged for further trainings with various sectors of their populous, under-serviced and gang-infested community.
The 6th training was requested by a community in Parow, and held on a Saturday at a local school. Participants were health and other service providers, as well as members of the community.
The 7th training was requested by a grassroots LGBTI group, especially for their executive, all lesbian, and held in the massive township of Khayelitsha, in one of the founders’ humble home. Participants were mainly community members who knew each other, and needed significant support, with longer-term support provided by referrals to other service providers.
The training occurred on a Saturday in February, during the week in which a local lesbian was brutally murdered by a gang, apparently because of her sexuality. Hence many participants were still in significant trauma and feared for their own safety in the community, and several of their group who had pre-registered for the training were too fearful to attend on the training day. Obviously the usual male-female paradigm of the training had to be adjusted to be appropriate to lesbians and bisexuals. There was significant conflict between butch-identified lesbians and femmes, with butches dominating and quite aggressive. Hence it is clear that butches need their own separate training in the future; similarly for femme-identified women, who are usually abused by butches.
Trainings 8 and 11 were requested by a social worker in Kasselsvlei, who was referred to Engender by an enthusiastic recent Engender trainee in Cravenby. They requested far more trainings than we could accommodate in the limited time frame of this project.
The 9th and 19th trainings were held in a squatter community near Muizenberg, Vrygrond. Participants were community leaders and a few service providers. Most participants were unemployed, and the community had no services, and had received no prior trainings. Abuse of women and children was widespread, with police and others offering no support or intervention, despite the proactive provisions of the Domestic Violence Act.
Haven Women's Shelter, Ravensmead
The 12th and 15th training was held on request in the Haven women’s shelter in Ravensmead, and attended by various service providers and community leaders in the area. They too had never had trainings before, despite their intense levels of community involvement, and their continuous experiences of vicarious trauma as e.g. volunteers in the Trauma Room at the local police station, where they counsel victims of rape and other forms of abuse, with many cases recounted as extremely harrowing.
Crystal High School Students, Hanover Park
The 13th and 16th trainings were held in Hanover Park, at Crystal High School for young women in Grade 11. Some of the women were already sexually active, and some were exchanging sexual favours for gifts and cash, and even engaging in unsafe sex. There was significant separation and racial tension between English-speaking (Coloured) and Xhosa-speaking learners, which were processed during the 1st training, resulting in more collaboration & cohesiveness during the 2nd training.
Muslim Women’s Group, Bellville
The 14th training was held in Bellville South, for the Muslim Women’s Group, requested by a recent Engender trainee. There was significant debate about the role and rights of women in Islam, especially since several members of the group were leaders (e.g. Islamic school teachers) in their community and mosque.
Hagley Community Development Organisation, Blue Downs
The 17th training was for the Hagley Community Development Organisation in Blue Downs, requested after a referral from a recent Engender trainee in Bellville South. This community had never received training or other support services.
Age in Action, Elsies River
The 18th training was for the NGO Age in Action in Elsies River, again requested by a recent Engender trainee at the Ravensmead programme. Participants were deeply committed community leaders and volunteers.
Life Centre, Montagu
The 20th training was for the Montagu NGO Life Centre, in a rural community approximately 3 hours’ drive from Cape Town. Participants were local service providers and community leaders.
An additional special training session was given for the Democratic Nurses’ Association (DENOSA) in Pretoria, for representatives from each of the 9 provinces. The programme dealt extensively with genders and sexualities, as well as cross-cutting issues such as HIV&AIDS and poverty, and significantly worked towards the empowerment of these health care professionals, and to help them shift from victimhood to agency.
Several workshops are still pending, and others are on request, subject to funding:
- Local government of Paarl (an hour from Cape Town)
- Farming area of Grabouw with farm workers and emerging farmers (three hours’ drive from Cape Town)
- Further trainings for SANCO in their Boland rural communities with local community leaders
- The rural community of Ceres, whose women-led advice office requested a training (three hours from Cape Town)
- Women empowerment farmers and farmworkers in Bonnievale
- The Democratic Nurses Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in the Western Cape
- Various urban communities in greater Cape Town, and rural communities in the Western Cape, for community leaders and service providers