Women Have the Right to be Empowered: OT Students
‘If we empower women, we empower a community,’ proclaimed fourth-year Occupational Therapy (OT) student, Ms Nontuthuko Shongwe, a member of the UKZN Women’s Empowerment Project.
Shongwe was speaking about the project which assists Mariannridge women to empower themselves through selling second-hand clothing.
The project is run by final year UKZN College of Health Sciences’ OT students.
Shongwe said the project aims to help women regain their self-confidence and sense of self-worth by giving them some form of financial independence.
The project assists underprivileged women who are unable to make ends meet by empowering them to start their own businesses. The women are also empowered with sufficient skills which may enable them to obtain employment.
Student, Ms Alannah Jackson said: ‘the community needs to rally behind the women in order to make the business grow and inspire other women to start their own projects.’
The participants are also taught communication skills, money management, entrepreneurial and administrative skills.
Established in 2015, the project was developed to assist Mariannridge women to gain an income by selling second-hand clothing donated by UKZN students.
The students have a donation box set up outside the Discipline of Occupational Therapy at the Westville campus. This also serves to conscientise UKZN students by allowing them to reflect on the material conditions of others and thus encouraging them to be altruistic.
The project also aims to develop a collaborative network between the community, other stakeholders and the UKZN students and is implemented under the supervision of an OT academic, Ms Chantal Christopher.
‘The empowerment project is not selective to women selling clothing only, yet also allows women to develop a sense of confidence and respect from others within the community increasing community cohesion. This allows for communication between the women and other community members rather than isolation due to their differing socio-economic statuses,’ said OT student, Ms Humaira Khan.