Northern Gauteng Project Empowering Women And Changing Lives In The Hammanskraal Community Northern Gauteng project empowering women and changing lives in the Hammanskraal community Chevron South Africa celebrates the strides made by the Intervention with Micro Finance for AIDS and Gender Equity (IMAGE) programme, designed to reach disadvantaged women and their households, in advancing government’s priority of promoting the social and economic status of woman in South Africa. “Empowering rural women is crucial for ending hunger and poverty. By denying women rights and opportunities, we deny their children and societies a better future. This is why the United Nations recently launched a programme to empower rural women and enhance food security.” – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Chevron South Africa, the leading refiner and marketer of Caltex fuel and lubricant products, recently announced it’s partnership with the Intervention with Micro Finance for AIDS and Gender Equity (IMAGE) project at a celebration event in Hammanskraal in Northern Gauteng. The event highlighted the project’s success to date in empowering women in the large rural communities of Hammanskraal and Mabopane which are recognised as previously disadvantaged areas. IMAGE is a community based, HIV and gender-based violence prevention programme designed to reach disadvantaged women and their households. The intervention combines group-based microfinance with gender and a HIV training curriculum called Sisters For Life (SFL). The programme aims to improve women’s economic wellbeing and independence, as well as to reduce their vulnerability to intimate partner violence, which is an independent driver of HIV. The celebration event ties in with the upcoming 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign which aims to create awareness and action against gender-based violence. The international campaign’s theme for this year is an extension from last year – From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women. The campaign takes place every year from 25 November to 10 December. The IMAGE programme embodies the 16 Days of Activism initiative, changing women’s lives for the better, daily. “Chevron has partnered with the IMAGE programme since 2011 and has witnessed the remarkable work and progress that is happening within these communities. Therefore we saw it fitting to reflect on and celebrate the success the programme has accomplished thus far. It truly highlights the importance and effectiveness of partnerships and alignment between South African NGO’s, communities and the public and private sector,” says Nobuzwe Mbuyisa, Chairperson of Chevron South Africa. Partnering organisations of the IMAGE programme include; United States Aid for International Development (USAID), Wits Health Consortium (WHC) and the Small Enterprise Foundation (SEF). “In South Africa, gender based violence and HIV are two of the most pressing public health challenges, with women and girls comprising 55% of those infected with HIV and 25% of women reporting to have been physically abused by an intimate partner,” says Mbuyisa. She adds, “Therefore we see the value in this programme and believe that initiatives such as IMAGE, focusing on key issues in South Africa, will definitely assist in advancing government’s priorities of economic empowerment of women.” The IMAGE programme is a year long project and consists of a team of 12 trainers covering 96 centres with 40 clients per centre. A total of 4752 women enrolled in the IMAGE programme at the end of December 2012. Of the women that have received loans from SEF, in order to start their own small business, 99% have been refunded, which makes more lending possible. IMAGE Project Director , Lufuno Muvhango says, “Through the combination of microfinance, gender and HIV training, we have already noticed that intimate partner violence has been reduced, while various dimensions of empowerment have increased amongst women such as self-confidence, autonomy in decision-making, better relationships with their partners and improved communication. We look forward to scaling up, and reaching more women, with the support of our partnerships.” Chevron is committed to a social investment strategy that aligns with both the needs of the communities in which it operates and the priorities of the government of South Africa.The three core focus areas for Chevron’s social investment strategy include economic development, health and education, and the IMAGE programme encapsulates all three elements. “Many of Chevron’s economic development projects focus on improving the lives of women by promoting equality and economic empowerment. We believe that when women are empowered, the whole family benefits, thus having a positive effect upon future generations,” concludes Mbuyisa. Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.