Women have long been acknowledged as the bedrock of the nation, and August’s women-oriented festivities highlight their capacity to create, nurture, and empower.
National Women’s Day on 9 August distils the commemoration of the iconic women that fought against Apartheid and serves to underline the ongoing value of women in society. But while gains have been made, many challenges still need to be addressed.
Considering the evolving role of women in society, effort needs to be made to support women and to provide opportunities for all. One way to empower women is to ensure that girls share the same education opportunities as boys, making education the most basic human right. As such, Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres are pivotal in shaping the next generation and investing in our children.
The first years of a child’s life form the foundation upon which they build their future, but millions of children in Cape Town’s township communities do not have access to quality early education. These preschools often struggle to create safe and conducive learning environments due to a lack of access to funds and support. Despite this, the need for preschools in these communities is huge, with some centres caring for hundreds of children every day.
To lighten the load, NPO Ikamva Labantu supports 400 preschools through an extensive capacity-building programme with a focus on skills development, offering specialized training and mentoring for ECD Principals and Practitioners. It also offers hands-on support for ECD Centres to meet the required standards as set out by the relevant government departments, as well as assistance accessing early learning subsidies.
Functioning as productive small businesses, these women-owned spaces bolster the homeowners by giving them a valuable income source and a measure of financial independence. Principals also employ trained practitioners to teach, thereby expanding job creation to others seeking work.
By facilitating a flourishing ECD environment, these women not only empower themselves within a small business network but get the chance to enable new generations of young girls.
ECD Programme Manager Mildred Bopoto comments: “The ECD programme empowers women by training them to run their ECD centres as small businesses because they are social entrepreneurs who also create employment for other women and some men. The training boosts their confidence as they gain knowledge and experience through theoretical training and hands-on practice at our Kwakhanya Educare Centre. Women are the backbone of the society, and empowering them empowers the community.”
The National Women’s Day catchphrase, “You strike a woman, you strike a rock”, always reminds us of the power of action in the face of adversity. A huge number of women dedicate their lives to childcare, and these resourceful community members are the glue that holds both families and society together.