By Tish Haynes, Director of DOCKDA
This is the final part of a two-part blog post. Read the first part here.
Home-based care workers have been working voluntarily for up to 10 years to bring those who are ill back to full health. They have walked through the windy summer sand storms of the Kgalagadi to reach their patients. They bring first and foremost themselves as women, tenderly caring and bathing the ill woman, making her as comfortable as possible in her small house. Home-based care workers provided their services voluntarily. They provided transport for the patient to go to the clinic; they shared their food with children; they fetched medication from the clinic. They also became aware of the different kinds of abuse they or community members were experiencing. DOCKDA facilitated workshops with women from Home Based Care organizations to address issues of inequality (in remuneration because they were women); abuse and harassment on women and girl children by men; the context of sexuality and gender; and the influence sexuality has in human relationships. When these organizations wanted to share their knowledge with the community, they organized and facilitated workshops. At the end of the year, after four mentoring and monitoring field trips by DOCKDA staff, DOCKDA would hold a Lekgotla to bring women and men together to share opinions on power relationships. This deepened their understanding of power relationships and they were inspired to support each other.
Growing awareness brought more questioning. Through the Gender at Work peer learning process, I became clearer about the links between HIV and gender-based violence. We were successful in accessing stipends for 95 home-based care workers from the Independent Development Trust. The stipends would provide an income to reduce women’s debt and over time enable them to start saving. A focal point for our grant-making was to shift from solely supporting GBV awareness workshops to supporting women to become financially literate and have more choices.
If women workers are unable to make decisions on household budgets because they do not receive a stipend, they are again in subservient roles. If they have access to a stipend at the very least, they can make decisions on their own or jointly with their husband/ partner. The change project is bringing new life into our organization. Women are receiving stipends and are contributing to their families’ budgets.
Tish Haynes is a participant in our Gender Action Learning process in South Africa.