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Economic empowerment reduces GBV risk

Investing in gender-based-violence services and strengthening community and justice systems alone cannot tackle GBV. For our nation to turn the tide on the scourge of GBV, all the pillars of the National Strategic Plan for Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) must be integrated and addressed. Since October 2022, NACOSA has partnered with the Tshikululu Trust and Anglo American Platinum to implement such an integrated intervention in mining communities in Limpopo and the North West.

The new programme includes strengthening of GBV services and community mobilisation and awareness, alongside a livelihoods intervention called Grow-Learn-Own (GLO). GLO provides economic strengthening and livelihoods training and opportunities to women and young people experiencing or at risk of GBV between 18 and 35 who are not employment, education of training.

GBV and HIV risk

The link between economic insecurity and GBV has long been acknowledged[1]. While GBV cuts across socio-economic status and geographic area, those that are economically dependant on partners or relatives are at greater risk of GBVF. Experience of GBV and economic insecurity are in turn also risk factors for acquiring HIV. GLO aims to motivate and empower women and young people affected by GBV to move into study, employment or self-employment and become financially independent, so reducing their risks.

GLO provides basic livelihood and food gardening skills, as well as referral to opportunities for study, employment or self-employment. Once the livelihood skills training is complete, participants also receive mentorship sessions over the next six months to ensure that they get all the necessary support they needed while finding their feet. NACOSA’s stance is that it is not enough strengthen and support GBV facilities only, women who are affected or at risk of GBV must also be empowered to be economically independent as reliance on their partners force some to stay in an environment where abuse occurs.

Life goals

The first skills training sessions kicked off in the Bojanala District in the North West in April. Forty young people were trained by NACOSA’s service provider Beulah Africa and the sessions were coordinated by Kitso ke Lesedi, a community based organisation in Lethabong Village that is part of the larger GBV programme.

The young participants enjoyed the training and found it helpful in setting goals:

“I am grateful for the training as it taught me how to set my goals and work hard towards achieving them. I have also learned how to handle myself and respond during job interviews. The role play story that they used taught me so much about budgeting and savings and not to allow my money to control me.” Mapula Kotsedi

“The training taught me so much about becoming an entrepreneur, saving money, working hard towards goals as well as being professional.” Refilwe Masego

For Julia Mazibuko, the livelihood skills training was a “super course” as it has made her feel like a powerful woman who is ready to establish herself.

Financial stability

Economic strengthening interventions like GLO are critical to both South Africa’s economic future and its GBV and AIDS response. Vulnerable populations who are in education, or employed and financially stable are much less likely to acquire HIV and be trapped in abusive relationships. It is hoped that empowering young people through this intervention will help to increase food security and decrease both GBV and HIV risk.

By Nyikiwe Sithole, Livelihoods Programme Specialist


[1] International Food Policy Research Institute (2019)