Empowered women build a safer community in South Africa


“I am grateful for the lessons about ending gender-based violence ... [they have] made me realize that I am not alone.” - Gloria, a project participant 

Young woman wearing a red dress standing next to a little both presenting her perfume business
Sari, project participant. Credit: Lesedi la Batho

South Africa has one of the highest rates of violence against women and girls globally, with one in five women in relationships experiencing physical violence by a partner.[1] Violence against women and girls is rooted in widely accepted patriarchal norms and gender inequality, and is exacerbated by harsh socio-economic conditions. 

With support from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, Lesedi la Batho (LLB), a women-led and faith-based organization, is running a three-year project to empower and support survivors of violence against women and help them reclaim their rights. 

Preventative education 

LLB aims to change attitudes and norms perpetuating violence against women and girls through education. The project has organized sessions in local schools for children from a young age so they can identify and report acts of gender-based violence, challenge harmful practices, and understand the importance of human rights, respectful relationships, healthy communication and gender equality. This youth-focused strategy is contributing to a stronger, longer-lasting impact of the project. 

To date, the sessions have involved over 1,800 participants and have received positive community feedback.  

Women as agents of change  

Through this project, LLB has established weekly support group sessions for survivors of violence, offering practical assistance and psychosocial counselling. It has already reached over 100 women, with some of them sharing stories of abuse directly linked to their financial dependence on their partner.  

Jenet Ncube, Project Coordinator at LLB, said: “Providing these activities helps those who are already affected by gender-based violence to cope better with their experiences and learn how best to heal both physically and emotionally.”  

The project also trains women survivors to become facilitators of their own support groups. This enables them to reach a wider community through awareness-raising campaigns and to become real community champions of change. 

Economic empowerment 

Recognizing the link between financial dependency and abuse, the project offers women survivors a skills development training, a seed funding programme and job placement services. These help women to start or strengthen their small businesses or find a new occupation. Ultimately, economically empowered women become more independent and confident, and therefore may be more likely to leave abusive relationships. 

Sarie, a single mother who faced emotional abuse from her partner, found support through the LLB’s entrepreneurship programme. In October 2023, she received seed funding for her proposal for a perfume business. Since then, her business has blossomed and has become her primary source of income. She now employs two women and can provide food and education for her children. In addition, she has gained confidence and hope for the future. 

Jenet Ncube noted: “When a woman earns an income, not only is she safer and more independent; her family and community strengthen too.” 

Investing in women’s rights means investing in women’s rights organizations like LLB who fully empower and support survivors of violence to become more independent and resilient.  

[1] Republic of South Africa, Department of Statistics (2020), “Crimes against women in South Africa, an analysis of the phenomenon of GBV and femicide: An overview of the prevalence of crimes against women in the country and the conditions that exacerbate GBV leading to femicide.”