South African Women In Dialogue


South African Women in Dialogue is an inclusive, non-partisan and not for profit women’s organisation established in 2003 that aims to represent the voices of South African women on all platforms where decisions are made that impact on their lives. SAWID subscribes to the principle of the broadest possible definition of inclusivity in terms of race, language, ethnicity, age, class, geographic origin, religious or political allegiance and sexual preference.

The core business of SAWID, is Dialogue, Advocacy, (including evidence-based research), and Development towards the quality of life, growth and equality needed to embed social sustainability at the level of the family and the community. SAWID started out with five programme areas, namely the National Annual Dialogue Forum, a Pan African Peace and Reconciliation forum, an Older Persons programme, a Younger Women’s programme and a Socio-Economic Development Programme, but between 2009 and 2015 SAWID focused strongly on especially the Socio-Economic Development Programme when it started implementing a psycho-social poverty eradication programme that trained 81 young men and women in 3 different provinces as social auxiliary workers, and then employed them to enter identified indigent families with a basket of services in partnership with their local municipalities.

The SAWID Development Caravan Model:

The psycho-social, family-based Development Caravan (DC) approach, which grew organically from the perspectives of grassroots women, and their conviction that poverty and family dissolution remained the greatest challenges of the apartheid legacy, prioritised personal and societal healing, dialogue, a focus on the family as unit of analysis and a psycho-social, case work approach to family resilience, and envisaged three eventual phases to graduate families from poverty and to establish productive self-reliance in targeted families.


1. Family Profiling And Needs Analysis

2. Priority Interventions accomplished

Personal Identification Family Dynamics Food

Security Priority Health Interventions

3. Facilitating access and linkages of people to provision of statutory and social resources.

Social Income Education And Skills Development

Integrated Housing Energy

Water And Sanitation Roads And Transport

4. Access to tools and resources for productive self-reliance/income generation

Employment:/Income generation


1. Asset and Initiative Identification Across The Community

2. Public Participation & Communication

3. Linking Participating Households To Community Dynamics and Forming Cooperatives

4. Ward Development and Capacity Building


1. Access to Micro-Credit for Productive Self-Reliance

2. Introduction of a Community Services Exchange System

3. Dialogue, Advocacy, Policy Reform And Institutional Remodeling

Partnerships with development institutions, local government and academia

Between 2006 and 2014 SAWID counted with a very important strategic partnership with the Independent Development Trust, government’s largest development partner, and in 2014 SAWID signed a 3 year MOU with the South African Local Government

Association (SALGA) Community Development Directorate. In August 2016, a 3 year MOU was signed with UNISA, (the largest higher education institution in the country and the continent, responsible for educating about 40% of all students in South Africa) to establish a SAWID Legacy Academy for Community Engagement, in order to collaboratively and systematically address a complex national agenda which is presently resulting in poor human development outcomes.

Past Impact

SAWID’s past advocacy resulted in a Ministry for Women, Children and Persons with Disability in 2009, which was subsequently strengthened to become a Ministry for Women in the Presidency. South Africa also participated in elaborating a National Anti-Poverty Strategy in 2007, which led to the establishment of Poverty War Rooms. SAWID’s advocacy also influenced the establishment of a National Planning Commission, which delivered a first National Development Plan on the 11th of November 2011. By regularly nominating worthy and qualified women candidates to decision making positions, SAWID managed to ensure that women of integrity and principles like Adv. Thuli Madonsela became the Public Protector (2009-2016), challenging state corruption and the abuse of state power.

Challenges and Lessons for Improvement

Since its establishment in 2003, SAWID sought to resource and educate women to become the agents of their own development. It became clear that women’s agency is diluted and the quality of life of their families affected by party-political considerations, and the distance between the resources of national government departments and the needs of women and families. The effectiveness of SAWID has been diminished by changes in political patronage and funding constraints. It is clear that agency must be nurtured at the level of the family and local government, and that education is a major driver for inter-generational poverty. It is hoped that the vibrant new partnership with UNISA will ensure that South African women remain Champions of Change and meaningful transformation during the three remaining years of the African Decade of Women.