Gender-based violence remains a severe issue in South Africa. Femicide is five times higher in South Africa than the global average, with South Africa having the fourth-highest femicide rate out of 183 countries. Moreover, women experience high levels of inequality across social, educational, and economic spheres. To address these issues, the Sisterhood Unite Project, run through SHAWCO, offers 10-week workshops to Grade 8 learners in high schools. The project’s objective is to equip, educate, and empower young girls to navigate challenges and instil a sense of hope and agency in them.
The report provides an evaluation of the project in 2023. The first finding is that learner attendance has been consistent and motivated, with over 25 learners attending each workshop. Additionally, learners indicated little prior knowledge on the topics covered by the workshops, such as mental health, self-image and identity, and social norms and stereotypes. Thus, each workshop was tailored to address a specific topic, raise awareness, encourage learning, and provide resources to learners.
The report also indicates that learners found the workshops informative, and their self-image and esteem significantly improved after attending. Specifically, learners shared that they had gained confidence, become more aware of discrimination based on gender, learned how to take care of their mental health, and had a better understanding of social norms and stereotypes. These insights have enabled them to address their peer pressure, self-image, and health and hygiene, as well as understand the importance of fundamental human rights.
The Sisterhood Unite Project’s core aim is to educate and empower young girls in poverty-stricken, violent communities. The project’s practical knowledge instils a sense of hope in the young girls, equipping them with skills to promote change in society. The project’s evaluation indicates that it has effectively achieved its objectives of empowering young girls and providing them with a tangible pathway out of poverty and violence.
The Sisterhood Unite Project’s evaluation report indicates that the project has successfully empowered and educated young girls in South Africa. The workshops were informative, and the learners’ self-image and esteem significantly improved. Learners gained the practical knowledge to promote change in society and a tangible pathway out of poverty and violence. It is hoped that this project’s success will be emulated in other parts of the world, enabling young girls to realise their full potential and contribute to society’s development. Kofi Annan once said, “There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.”