The following speech was delivered by the City’s Executive Mayor today at an event to celebrate the Women for Change programme at the Athlone Civic Centre.

It is my great honour to be here with you all and especially with our beautiful Women for Change participants for the 2017/18 financial year.

This project is very close to my heart and I have met some of the Women for Change at various events; but I wanted to have an opportunity to celebrate all of you.

I want to start by thanking you and paying tribute to you for the work you did by being part of the pioneering group of women in our first year of the Women for Change programme.

Your work in your communities and on this project has proven what I always believed in: that government must not tell people what is good for them.

We must take hands with our communities and listen to them and work with them to solve the problems in our communities.

You all know what the dangers and social ills are because you face them daily in your communities and even in your household.

But you have been part of the group of women to say: ‘Enough is enough, I want to be part of the positive change.’

You all bring to life this project’s motto: ‘Women rising above adversity.’

I know that you all here are mothers and some are even grandmothers who have battled many problems in your life and you see how your community is falling apart due to the social ills like drugs, alcohol abuse and gangsterism.

But you had the will to tackle these issues head-on and in doing so you are helping us build a safe and caring city.

I always receive positive reports about all of you and the work that you have done where gangsters run away from you, where you make sure children get to school safely or you help children who don’t have something to eat.

Where children bunk school, you are there as community mothers to make sure that child gets to school to get an education.

You have kept our communities clean, clearing graffiti and illegal dumping and have even started recycling and selling products from the waste you pick up.

You have referred people to our Matrix® programme to help them tackle their substance abuse problem.

And you have been there as a companion for our senior citizens helping clean their houses, fetch their medication, do their shopping or even just rub their feet and keep them company.

Thank you, enkosi, baie dankie and shukran to all of you for the sacrifices you made to help us uplift our communities with your various initiatives.

This programme has seen phenomenal success, firstly, because it has created jobs so the economic position of the women has been strengthened.

The women who are participating have become active role-players in all aspects of community life. The training they have received has improved their leadership skills. They ensure that children attend after-school activities and school truancy rates have also declined because of your interventions.

You were also part of protecting the environment and addressing health risks by monitoring illegal dumping and graffiti. You bolstered social care initiatives by assisting senior citizens and have improved the maintenance of rental stock by helping to log maintenance and work requests.

And there is more, in area South: nine women registered to complete their matric, three women joined the SA Police Service, 12 women enrolled at FET colleges with bursaries and seven participants accessed permanent jobs.

In area central, the women launched an NGO; 15 children who were suspended from schools were re-admitted because of the interventions by the Women for Change; and 20 community members were admitted for in-patient treatment to tackle their addictions.

In area East there was reduced truancy because of the Women for Change through the walking bus initiative and interventions for young people with the leadership campaign with the Chrysalis Academy.

And finally, in area North, one of the women was enrolled for a course at the University of the Western Cape. She was a victim of domestic violence but this project saw her pick herself up and now she is going to get her tertiary education.

That is just a snapshot of the successes. There are of course many more and I salute each one of you here today for the positive changes you have made in our communities.

The City is of course going to rotate this project to more areas because we have to spread the opportunities and give more women the chance to play an active role and make a difference in their communities.

We are finalising the recruitment process and a group of 972 women will start this programme in three weeks’ time.

In closing, we all have our work cut out for us. There is a lot to do so continue being our partners to make Cape Town a safe and a caring city.

Once again, my thanks to each woman here today, to all the city officials and councillors for your work on this project.

Thank you, baie dankie, shukran, enkosi and God Bless you all.

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