Sunrise campaign will run for 365 days of the year

Date: January 15, 2017
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Sunrise. A new day. A fresh start. A chance to move from despair to hope. To empower women. To break the cycle of gender violence. During the Season of Giving & Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence from 24 November to 26 December, Gender Links is running the Sunrise Campaign calling on all who care about equality and justice to “give the gift of empowerment.”    Donations of any amount can be made online from anywhere in the world by clicking here. Sponsors in the US can receive a tax certificate from our partner CAF by using the platform here.

“Our message is simple,” said GL Chairperson Emily Brown. “There is something each one of us can do to break the cycle of violence. If we all donate just a fraction of what we spend during the festive season to changing the lives of women and girls, we can create a safer, happier, more just and better future  for all.”

It costs just $1000 or R15,000 for women to go through the year-long training programme that has been shown to reduce violence, increase income, agency and relationship control as well as uplift whole families. The Sunrise Campaign, piloted in ten Southern African countries over the last three years,  aims to raise $100,000 over the next six weeks to extend the programme to another 1000 women in 2017. In South Africa, the campaign is supported by the Social Justice Initiative,that will match donations made by South Africans.

The Season Of Giving runs from Thanksgiving (24 November) to Boxing Day (26 December), including Giving Tuesday (29 November). The Sixteen Days of Activism on violence against women that runs from 25 November – International Day of No Violence Against Women –  to 10 December, Human Rights Day.

GL has extended this to a 365 day campaign. During this period GL is running SADC Protocol@Work summits in eight Southern African countries under the banner 50/50 by 2030: Empower women, end violence. Among the participants are 200 of the 1350 survivors of gender violence across the SADC region who have reclaimed their lives through becoming entrepreneurs CUT. Watch the video here. Read the personal accounts of the emerging entrepreneurs. Learn more about the Empower Women, End Violence Programme. The campaign is affiliated to UNWOMEN’s Orange the World – raise money to End Violence Against Women and Girls campaign. The Sunrise Campaign has been endorsed by Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Special Envoy on Gender to the African Development Bank and has won the Mail and Guardian Investing in the Future awards 2016.

Gender Links, the award-winning Johannesburg-based Southern African women’s rights NGO, embarked on a pilot project to test the link between economic empowerment and ending gender violence three years ago.

This followed studies in seven Southern African countries showing that one in four to four in five women have experienced some form of violence over their lifetime; with the highest form of violence – emotional abuse- also the least likely to be reported to the police.

“For many years we had gathered “I” Stories or first- hand accounts of survivors of GBV,” says Gender Links founder and CEO Colleen Lowe Morna. “Invariably women told us that they go back into abusive relationships because they have no choice. We asked ourselves what is the exact opposite of abuse which destroys that essential sense of agency, of self- worth. And we decided on entrepreneurship, because it involves believing in yourself, taking risks, and of course being able to negotiate.”

Working with 100 councils in ten Southern African countries that form part of the Centres of Excellence for Gender in Local Government, GL devised a unique, year-long programme that includes gender training, life skills, business training, links to finance and opportunities, mentorship, networking and IT skills. GL’s  Gender Empowerment Index (GEI) measures income, women’s experience of violence, attitudes and aptitudes at the start and finish of the programme.

Follow up research on the first 1350 women in the pilot project supported by the Netherlands Government Funding Leadership Opportunities for Women Fund showed that

  • 91% completed a business plan and 79% followed through on the plan
  • Average income increased by R526 per month; a 66% increase
  • 59% added new products and 54% found new markets; 48% indicated starting a new business and 29% increased the size of their business; 41% opened a bank account and 35% increased email usage.
  • 85% of participants said they now experience less or much less GBV. Overall, the relationship control index increased by four percentage points to 66%.

“I found the training very helpful and interesting,” says Ndobela Misolwa Vutisa from Phalaborwa, South Africa. “The most useful thing about the training is the fact that I was taught how to save money from the business and this has been a major lesson for me and I can see the improvement. Before I attended the training I had a small business of selling cool drinks and airtime at my house. In June 2015 I started to venture into a new business of renting out rooms. So far I built two rooms with bathrooms to rent. I am hoping to finish the building by June 2016. It was at the Gender Links workshop where I got the information and the encouragement to build these rooms. I am managing to do this project all by myself.”

Mafumanang Sekonyela from Lesotho won the best entrepreneur award at the national summit in Lesotho in 2014 and got a passport for the first time to travel to the regional summit in Johannesburg. During the summit, GL arranged a study visit to the Maponya Mall in Soweto. One of the businesses expressed interest in ordering the flowers that Sekonyela  makes in her business. After the summit she rushed home excited about the new market opportunity.  She got big orders and had to hire two women to help her. Sekonyela now travels to Johannesburg four times a year. She has opened a bank account for the first time in her life; is able to pay her kids school fees and takes care of her family.

Susan Swart from the Western Cape Province in South Africa took the microphone with confidence at the  SADC Gender Protocl@Work Summit in 2014 and declared: “I overcame, so can you!” Her emotional anguish of living with an abusive husband finally surfaced after her husband decided she was not good enough anymore and left her and her two kids to fend for themselves. She thought long and hard about the business ventures she could pursue. She registered a catering business and started with a donated chips making machine. In 2013, Susan attended the Gender Links (GL) entrepreneurship training programme for survivors of gender violence and said that since then she has never looked back. As she put it: “GL taught me how to fly. I was encouraged to encourage others and was empowered to empower myself. I want to tell everyone that they can overcome, just like I have. My business is still growing and I know it will keep growing. Gender links has provided me with the platform and the freedom to be the best that I can.” Within minutes the whole marquee, with over 400 regional delegates, rose to its feet, applauding the will and drive of this woman.

During the 2015 SADC Gender Protocol@Work Summit held in Botswana the shy Gladys Simon stood in front of hundreds of participants and declared: “I have learnt that I do not need a man in my life to survive. GL gave me a new lease of life. I felt that for the first time the workshop was about making a difference in my life. Unlike all the other training I had attended GL followed us up and cared that we succeeded. I have managed to revive my company. I am now able to keep the books and save money. Ministers have visited my business and donated much needed equipment. I am now able to encourage and empower others. My life has improved a lot and I managed to put a roof over my family. I am able to provide for their needs and I no longer beg for help from people.’’ In his speech the Vice president of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi applauded Simon for her perseverance and pledged to support the programme. Click here for more first- hand accounts of Southern African women reclaiming their lives.

For more information contact Lucia Makamure on 071 035 8896