The Rural Women’s Movement (RWM) was established in 1995 as an affiliate of the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA). In 2004, Founder and Director, Sizani Ngubane realised that the time was ripe for the organisation to stand alone and pursue their own agenda. The movement is a volunteer-based rural organisation that takes up issues of land, gender and development at both local and national levels.
The organisation is a convergence of KwaZulu Natal women from different political backgrounds coming together to fight for gender equality. Gender equality for RWM means the possibility of women gaining independent access to land, regardless of any relations to male kin that they may have. Nonhlanhla Ngubane, a volunteer for RWM since its inception, states “It is very hard for women to gain access to land unless the land is acquired by their male relatives.”
Presently, the RWM consists of about 496 small CBOs that provide life training skills to rural women and men. Thulani Ngubane, another active member of RWM, stresses that though the organisation is geared predominantly towards empowering women, it does not alienate men, “It is gender sensitive.”
The RWM grew out of the idea of the emancipation of women in the rural areas and this entails their ability to acquire land to ensure their security. Accordingly, it has four programme areas. Firstly, it facilitates women’s active participation in local government, hoping to cement their role within these institutions. Secondly, the organisation assists women acquire land tenure.
While trying to help rural women acquire their independence, the women of RWM saw that their surrounding communities were slowly being undermined by HIV/AIDS. The organisation realised that with the untimely deaths of men and women within these KwaZulu Natal communities, resulted in young children being left to fend for themselves. As a response to this situation, the RWM’s third programme area is HIV/AIDS training for women and orphans.
Lastly, RWM provides ICT training for rural communities as a means of facilitating women’s empowerment. The RWM has formed a link with Human Rights Internet (HRI) an international organisation that provides the exchange of information within the worldwide human rights community. To assist RWM provide ICT training, HRI has provided them with a person on a five month contract to train rural women with basic computer skills. The organisation is hopeful that as from April of this year, HRI will provide them with a person to upscale the training to a more advanced level.
With the development of a website, the RWM is assured a strong presence in the international field. Nonhlanhla is positive that this move will help the organisation advance to even greater heights.
Nonhlanhla says that the RWM has helped her gain a lot of knowledge about what is happening around her and how this knowledge can help her shape her own world. “When I first joined the RWM I was a woman who knew nothing, but now I have gained so much information because of the Rural Women’s Movement I have been able to meet and learn from different people.”
Work done by organisations like the Rural Women's Movement is to ensure the realisation of rural policy transformation that is truly gender sensitive.
Sizani Ngubane – Founder and Director.
Tel. 033 343-4147
Nonhlanhla Ngubane – Volunteer.
Tel. 082 862 7760.
This Profile was produced by Badumile Duma, Information Coordinator, SANGONeT.