San girls empowerment programme
San girls living in extremely poor and marginalised communities experience a diminished sense of self-esteem, shyness and fear of self-expression, lack of ambition as well as lack of connectedness to their cultures, peers, communities and schools. They are exposed to all forms of violence, including bullying in schools. In most communities schools do not provide mother tongue education for San children, have no San staff or support staff to support San learners, exclude San history and cultural skills in their curriculum, and practise discrimination and violent corporal punishment against San children. Many girls drop out at a young age due to pregnancy and motherhood. Parents may force girls into child marriage or co-habitation as a means of survival.
The objective of this programme is to build resilience among San schoolgirls aged 8 -14 years old, by supporting them to develop cultural pride, challenge and overcome discrimination, prevent violence and abuse including child marriage and early pregnancies, and complete their education.
We seek to promote the protective factors that have been identified internationally in work with marginalised and traumatised children, which include strengthened self-knowledge, self-esteem, cultural pride, connectedness to others through friendship and building strong relationships to their parents, their mentors in this programme, supportive teachers and other community members. We also provide them with age-appropriate knowledge and skills to promote their personal development and help them to stay in school and complete their education.
Our focus in 2023 is to strengthen the San Girls Circles as safe spaces for personal and collective growth in six communities, as well as to support the local San women’s groups with strategic planning for self-directed activities.