The benefits of social employment for marginalized black women cannot be overstated. Social employment refers to programs that provide work and training opportunities for people who face barriers to employment, such as those who are marginalized or have a disability. Marginalized black women are one of the groups that have historically faced barriers to employment due to discrimination and systemic inequalities. Social employment programs can help to address these barriers and provide marginalized black women with opportunities to improve their economic and social situation.
Since July 2022, Hlanganisa is one of the 28 Strategic Implementation Partners of the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which seeks to use direct public investment to support employment opportunities, counteracting job losses due to Covid-19 and creating an opportunity for growth and renewal. The stimulus package includes social employment as part of its portfolio of interventions to create jobs and support livelihoods.
Hlanganisa has been implementing an intervention called the Sisterhood Advocates Project as part of the social employment program. The Sisterhood Advocates Project is being implemented in partnership with 38 community advice offices and community based organisations to strengthen the support for Violence Against Women and Children response through community-based paralegal and providing ongoing support to the Sisterhood Advocates who uncover gender based violence related cases and who in-turn support survivors of such violence.
As at 1 May 2023, the project employs 2654 women and some of the benefits of social employment is that it provides these women access to stable and meaningful employment. Many women are stuck in low-paying and insecure jobs that offer no opportunities for advancement. This Sisterhood Advocates Project provide these women with stable jobs, although it is short term, this employment pays a living wage and provides opportunities for advancement. After the women have been recruited on the project, they undergo training on community based paralegalism, and gender-based violence in order to prepare them for the work they will be embarking on and succeed on it.
Many marginalized black women face significant barriers to education and training, which can limit their employment opportunities. Social employment programs such as this, provide these women with the training they need to develop new skills and advance in their endeavours as well as investing in the infrastructure and resources necessary to support these programs.
Another benefit of the Sisterhood Advocates is that it helps to build community and social connections. Many of these women face isolation and lack social support networks, which can impact their mental health and wellbeing. This project provides these women with the opportunity to connect with others, build relationships, and develop a sense of community. It also helps to address systemic inequalities and barriers that prevent these women from fully participating in the workforce and it promotes diversity, inclusion and social justice by providing opportunities for these women to access stable employment and develop new skills and assist to break down systemic barriers. This can lead to greater economic and social wellbeing not just for the individual women, but for the benefit of the entire community, by reducing poverty and improve the overall economic wellbeing of the community.
Moreover, it is essential to involve marginalized black women in the development and implementation of social employment programs. This ensures that the programs are tailored to meet the unique needs and experiences of their communities and that they are designed with input from those who will benefit from them the most.