What POWA does
POWA is a “feminist, women’s rights organisation that provides both services, and engages in advocacy in order to ensure the realisation of women’s rights and thereby improve women’s quality of life”.
POWA’s uniqueness as an organisation is in providing both services to survivors and engaging in advocacy using a feminist and intersectional analysis. Our work is rooted in the belief that change can only be said to be effective when women’s lives are directly improved through our interventions. We also believe that there is no single route to change, and thus constantly seek new and creative approaches in our programming to achieve the change we seek.
Frontline Services – Shelters, counseling, and legal advice
As one of our core frontline services, POWA provides shelter services for clients (and their children where relevant) who have been the victims of GBV. These services are located in the East and West Rand, and a “second stage” house is located in Berea. POWA also provides several forms of counselling to clients (including shelter clients), such as face-to-face counselling, support groups (facilitated by a social worker) and telephone counselling and referrals. The Legal and Advocacy Department at POWA also assist women (approximately 50 per month) with telephonic and face-to-face-legal advice to women, court preparation and support, and referral to other professionals and practitioners (pro bono).
The Legal and Advocacy Department at POWA works to “provide quality women-centred legal service and engage in national and regional advocacy for the protection and promotion of women’s rights.” POWA’s advocacy work includes advocating for legal reform, for example, parliamentary law reform submissions as well as strategic litigation. We actively participate in national advocacy. We are a member of the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR), a network of 26 Civil Society Organisations and Development Partners. In South Africa, POWA is the lead organisation spearheading the eight-nation Raising Her Voice Campaign, working to empower women to hold governments accountable to commitments on GBV and HIV.
Outreach & Media
Conducting local, provincial and national human rights education and awareness workshops is a critical component of the programmes areas of work. Engaging in rights education at local level to build women’s political agency; enforcing on a case by case basis as well as more generally through campaigns and plain language publications, protections entrenched in existing legal and policy frameworks. The overall goals of the Media, Information and Communication component of POWA’s strategy is to “source package and disseminate quality, credible, accurate and appropriate information to stimulate debate, discussion and activity on VAW – and its intersections with poverty and HIV”.
Training and development
The overall goal of the Training and Development component of POWA’s work is to build capacity – internally and externally – to strengthen GBV interventions that are women-centred and rights-based, ensuring our interventions respond to the intersections between GBV, HIV and poverty. Working closely with all programmes and services of POWA, the Department’s strategy centres on building individual, organisational and community capacity to respond to and prevent violence against women. Activities which focus on improving services for women survivors as well as activities which aim at women’s leadership and transformation are undertaken. POWA’s training and learning programs range from one day workshops through to year-long multi-modal strengthening capacity programmes.
Feminist Research and Knowledge Production
Keeping the gender based violence sector and other related and relevant sectors informed about violence against women and gender based violence is essential in ensuring that responses address the needs of women in South Africa and the sub-region. The overall goal of the research department is to create and continually update feminist knowledge on violence and against women in order to inform and ensure effective women-centred interventions and provide information to the wider community. The findings of POWA’s are translated into research into publications, presentations and advocacy briefs and plain language leaflets. The Research department provides POWA with critical information and feminist analysis which informs our planning, monitoring and evaluation of the programs and services of the organisation.