Build Hope and Skills for Refugee Women, S. Africa

by WWWA - Whole World Women Association

Although the apartheid system was brought to an end over a decade ago, many South African women and refugee women still suffer the effects of racial and gender discrimination.  In such conditions which already make them extremely vulnerable, rape and other forms of violence against women are prevalent crimes in South African society.  It is often a daily struggle for survival, but WWWA is giving refugee women a place to find peace, restore dignity, and acquire life-long skills that will lead to independence.

The WWWA Empowerment Center opened its doors in 2011 to 30 women! The Empowerment Center is providing capacity-building assistance to refugee women, helping to shape their own future.  Here, they become  educated and empowered to lead healthy and independent lives by engaging in activities such as sewing, beading, and computer skills training.  

The Empowerment Center has successfully served as a save space for refugee women, giving them courage to learn, not only new skills, but to learn how to effectively market their newly acquired skills to potential employers.

Among the 30 members, two of the members have been elected to assist in the on-going training of women, as well as serving as professional mentors and counselors.  


Some of the women pictured here are beneficiaries of WWWA's training programs.

Help WWWA increase their services and skills training programs.   With your contribution, you help refugee women move toward self-sufficiency, take control of their own lives and establish a future of peace and dignity, free from violence and discrimination!

Thanks to the recent success of the opening of the Economic Empowerment Center, WWWA is able to further enhance the development of refugee women by providing income-generating and educational projects that will lead to an improved life-style.

 Far too often in Africa, refugee women and girls are tremendously altered by the wars and political conflicts in the continent; some even suffer from gender-specific and/or cultural forms of violence such as genital mutilation or forced marriage.  Fleeing their homes to seek solace and new opportunities in neighboring areas or countries, refugee women and girls become even more vulnerable, struggling to survive in a foreign area stripped of all support systems.

 At the Economic Empowerment Center, WWWA mobilizes refugee women and children to engage in social and economic empowerment activities that will lift them out of poverty and enable them to live in dignity and peace, free from violence and discrimination.

 With just a small donation you will be supporting The Economic Empowerment Center’s efforts to continue providing services such as technical garment-making and computer literacy workshops; health education, counseling and childcare support; job skills and leadership trainings; and employment services.

 Not only will your contributions give women and children hope, but it will also help showcase their development in their host communities, the continent, and in the world at large!

WWWA is carrying forward its mission to provide skills based training for refugee women in South Africa. Having opened it's center to trainees learning how to teach others in vocational skills such as beading, sewing, dress making, hair dressing, and working in child care, the Job-Skills Training Project (Economic Empowerment Centre) is fully open to female refugees. Finding work as a refugee can be difficult, requiring fluency and literacy in local languages and English. For many of the women that WWWA serves, finding employment is prohibited by this requirement. WWWA's goal is to train women in skills they can use to generate an income despite language limitations in the job market, in an environment that is supportive and provides counseling to help women cope with  their experiences of violence and war as refugees.

The project recognizes that in order to effectively address trauma, domestic violence, as
well as poverty it needs to include job skills and training programmes with the counseling, healing of
memories, accommodation legal advise, leadership training , and other services its partners provide for its
clients. Refugees are often viewed as helpless victims of war. The reality is that they are dynamic, social and
economic actors who have the potential and desire to control their own lives, livelihoods, and futures. In
a bid to restore self dignity and a better self esteem the centre will enhance the skill and capacities of
refugees women while they are in south Africa (Western Cape), the skills gained here will be used both
in long and short term survival strategies to help them rebuild their post-conflict communities when they
return home, and to help them seek gainful employment and compete equally in the job markets while
they are still in the country of refuge.

Thanks to donations and support from donors like you, WWWA is has been able to open the Economic Empowerment Center's doors to all of its members for vocational training. The trainers participating in the Center's work were even able to take a computer class!

Starting October 12 for a limited time, GlobalGiving will be matching donations for this project! Donate and maximize your impact!

In an effort to address trauma, domestic violence and poverty suffered by displaced and refugee women in the Western Cape, WWWA continues to provide skills-building training, trauma counseling, accommodation and legal advice, leadership training and other services.

WWWA also offers refugee women in South Africa “a safe place for them to talk freely, to learn how to forgive and to make better people out of ourselves,” as stated by one member of the group. By providing women with not only a safe place to share their feelings but a place where they can develop their life-skills, confidence and skills training that help them to earn a living, these refugee women know what is feels like to become empowered and own the processes that help shape their lives. As a result, many members are now mentoring women in their communities.

Workshops on creative writing and other outlets allow the women the chance to tell their story and to raise awareness about the ongoing xenophobia against refugees in South Africa. For example, 13 women participated in a theatre performance that showcased the women’s stories of struggle.

With your support, WWWA can continue to provide a comprehensive range of services that are accessible and safe to refugee women and children including: advocating for awareness of women’s rights on issues such as HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence, socioeconomic rights and raising awareness in the host community about refugee women whose lives have been tremendously altered by the wars and political conflicts in the continent.

The creation of a woman’s group has contributed to the empowerment of refugee women in South Africa through a life-writing project, life skill training and live performances. These processes allow the women to engage in a beneficial healing process, earn income and recognize their own strengths and weaknesses. The programs also combat the widespread of xenophobia in local townships.

The women’s group, Giemoh (One Voice), has compiled their stories into a creative writing piece, We Were Once Queens, that is being shared with local schools and has received a positive response. The women also participated in 6 training workshops to prepare for World Refugee Day. The formation of a theatre group has helped to raise the confidence of the group members to share their stories helping other refugee women gain confidence and join the group.

With your support WWWA plans to continue creating mentor groups of women and enhance their leadership skills.


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Organization Information

WWWA - Whole World Women Association

Location: Cape Town, Western Cape - South Africa
Project Leader:
Gillian Wilson
IDEX Latin America Program Director
San Francisco, CA United States

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