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Colby College

Publication Date

Spring 2010

Program Name

South Africa: Social and Political Transformation


Fifteen years into a democratic society, fifteen years after the abolition of a governmental structure that purposefully marginalized a majority of citizens, South African women are still living as a marginalized majority. While the position of women holding symbolic and representational positions remains changed for the better, the role of women in civil society has made little progress. Since the end of apartheid, the number of cases of sexual assault and rape against women continues to increase, painting a bleak picture regarding the protection of women. Young women also find themselves the victims of HIV/AIDS at an incredibly unbalanced rate of 4:1, highlighting the gendered nature of such a disease. In order for women to move past these and other social stigmas, they must inevitably feel that they are in control of their own lives and lifestyles. To harness this control, education is a key actor, empowering women to understand the location, prevention and treatment of physical and social problems. For young women, born into the free generation, this becomes incredibly important, as they have the greatest control over the future of the nation. To this end, the creation of a young women’s female empowerment program serves this vulnerable and impressionable population. Through literature and personal contact, I have developed an understanding of some of the main gender-based problems facing South African women in today’s society. Through the lens of feminism, I have worked to create a curriculum that invests itself in cultural sensitivity so far as not to promote the imperialism of one culture, but simply a change from within. I have worked to create twelve week lesson plan that focuses on the issues facing young women today, building upon education, prevention and treatment of issues and social stigmas. Through implementation of four out of twelve weeks, I have been able to see how such a curriculum can function in this particular community and develop concurrent lessons accordingly. It is through this curriculum and exploration of its implementation that I argue such a vehicle is a necessary mechanism for change.


Cognition and Perception | Gender and Sexuality



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