The SELF HELP GROUP APPROACH (SHGA) has been a motivating factor that is emancipating vulnerable groups of women within marginalized communities out of poverty. This approach has seen women being able to create income generating business, hence enabling them not only to be breadwinners, but equal partners within the family structures as well. In an interview with one of the program’s beneficiaries of SHGA Simangele Dube from Umzingwane District Ward 19 (Zimbili), she had these sentiments to share:
My name is Simangele Dube, a member of Mazenzela SHG which was formed in 2015. I joined the group in 2017 two years later, after it was established. At first life was strenuous as I used to cut grass and sell it to cater for my family’s needs but this was burdensome as the people sometimes would not buy the grass. I could not afford to pay fees for my two children and that is how hard it was. As I joined the SHG group in 2017, I took my first loan to order airtime for resale. Later on, as my business expanded, I began ordering clothes from Mesina and selling so that l could pay fees for my two children.
The elder one wrote her form 4 examinations and the other one is in form 2 at a boarding school. In 2020 during the shutdown of Covid 19 I was not able to order stock from Mesina, so I decided to venture into groceries and sell them to people in my village since moving around was onerous . I’m now running a grocery tuck-shop and it is very helpful in meeting my family needs .My life has changed a lot since I joined the SHG. I can now provide food and clothes for my family, I can now pay fees for my children and I can now stand independently on my own without having to rely on anyone else.
The SHGA has been an instrument in eliminating the negative stereotypes on women and their ‘dependency’ on their male counterparts; creating a different perspective within the communities they live in. The women are now able to pay school fees for their children, providing food and clothing which is feeding directly into equal gender roles and duties. Gender Based Violence has also reduced, as the SHGA enables women to freely talk and give therapeutic advice to one another, especially on issues to do with gender based violence and domestic violence.
Empowering women has also brought revolutionary development since these businesses are also helping the community through creating a local economy; the community is no longer travelling to Bulawayo to buy some groceries. Women empowerment is pivotal in positioning females within structures of political economic and social power. Women now assume respectable roles within the community due to the fact that they are self-reliant and have shown leadership skills.
What can be said about this SHGA is bringing a revolutionary change.