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Empowerment of women through training is still lacking

23 November 2010
A female engineer works at the Volkswagen South Africa plant in Uitenhage. Very few women have been given the chance to possess such high level skills. Photo: Media Club South Africa

A female engineer works at the Volkswagen South Africa plant in Uitenhage. Very few women have been given the chance to possess such high level skills. Photo: Media Club South Africa

Many training programmes exist in South Africa with the aim of empowering women, but most women are still not gaining the marketable professional skills they are meant to from these initiatives.

The Sowetan reports that it was found in a study commissioned by Policy Analysis and Capacity Enhancement and the Human Sciences Research Council (Republic of South Africa), “that women, particularly those from the rural areas, were still not benefiting from training programmes aimed to empower women”.  In other words, although 51% of South Africa’s population is female, the progress of development in South Africa is not yet fully inclusive and has been effectively reinforcing the predatory patriarchy of the old South Africa.

Public awareness campaigns on high level skills training for women should be improved. Photo: Media Club South Africa

Public awareness campaigns on high level skills training for women should be improved. Photo: Media Club South Africa

In the light of these disappointing findings, Baleka Mbete, the national convener of the Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa, challenges the purveyors of development and the skills revolution to concentrate on gender inclusive standards and to commit to supporting women to gain the skills necessary to break into traditionally exclusive fields that are key to economic development such as engineering and finance.

Although women are involved in political decision making, their depressingly low rates of involvement in high level skills-based training shows that there is a gap in communication between those who implement the skills training programmes and the female public.

Some suggestions offered to close this gap are to increase gender sensitive legislative spending, to improve the implementation of public awareness campaigns for high level skills training, and to commission a mentorship programme for school girls, so as to encourage participation in scarce skills training programmes and enrolment in applicable university degree programmes.

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