Job creation for the empowerment and development of rural women : the role of the Working for Water Programme in Umlaas catchment area, KwaZulu-Natal.
The study focuses on job creation for the empowerment and development of women and assessed the role of State projects in the Umlaas Catchment area of the Working for Water Project in Kwazulu-Natal. The concepts of gender, households and rural development are defined from the socio-economic and geographical perspectives. A brief review of the aims of the Working for Water Project, which sets out to increase water yield through the clearing of invasive alien plants with the main objective of employing and training people from the disadvantaged communities in order to enhance their social upliftment and empowerment is presented. The data are collected from five stakeholders viz: the women employees, the contractors, the Project manager and the household members of the women employees of the working for Water Project as well as the community members from the six settlements in which the women employees are resident. In-depth interviews with the samples, which were tape-recorded, yielded a- rich database. The data are subjected to qualitative and quantitative analyses- to assess the extent to which job- creation enhances the empowerment and development of the women employees of the Project. The analyses entail the level of involvement of women in the management of the Project, capacity building and acquisition of skills through training, the effects of income in power relation at home and community and the socio-economic impacts of the project on the empowerment of the rural women in the study area. The analyses show that: (a) many of the women resort to work because of the pressing financial needs in their homes in order to alleviate the level of poverty. Also, the Working for Water Project has significantly helped the women employees to meet their financial obligations toward themselves, their children and members of their households. (b) more women than men are employed by the Working for Water Project in keeping to its objective. However, few women occupy management positions. The Project draws on a range of age groups with almost all the women employees less than 50 years of age. (c) some of the women employees of the Project have acquired skills from the organized training and as such are more confident to manage resources not only in their primary assignment but in their life situations. However, while the Project has helped some of the women employees to organize themselves in budgeting and making choices regarding their lives, some are still constrained by traditions. (d) the men seem to be happy that their women are working since there is no evidence to support that the men did not want the women to work neither did any of the women indicate that their men raised an opposition. Thereafter suggestions are offered to guide the policy makers and the Working for Water Project in achieving their set objectives of empowering and developing the rural women in order to stimulate a rapid transformation of the rural areas in South Africa.