Strong Women Power South Africa

Claire Quinn
November 30, 2016
Strong Women Mosaic in Cape Town

This semester, through my IES Abroad class I studied polity, gender, and economics in Southern Africa. I was able to learn about people, and their ability to change the world they live in. In South Africa, women are often disregarded as weak members of their community because of their gender and place in society. It wasn’t fully possible to understand this perspective until I was able to interact with different communities in Cape Town, those that could explain the history of gender norms in South Africa, and the importance of women in the household and why this social role was such a normal thing. For many women, finishing school is often not a reality, and limited knowledge of sexual health and access to good medical care creates a common trend of young mothers that must drop out of school to care for their families.

For my IES Abroad course, I was also tasked with completing service hours within a local community in Cape Town. We were offered various organizations to work with, and so I chose Sisters 4 Sisters. This organization is comprised of a group of women from surrounding areas in and outside of Cape Town, often immigrants from other African nations, who have come to South Africa with limited social networks, and few job opportunities. These women have band together to create a support system for one another and are working towards creating their own self-sustaining business. Although many of them women are currently struggling to make ends meet, they still get together almost every week to see how they can help one another and make future plans for the business they are starting.

In South Africa, women are assumed to be weak, to be secondary to men. But the women I have come to call my friends and my own support system in South Africa are nothing of the sort. They are driven, and strong. They are starting their own business, and supporting each other every step of the way so that together, they can create something successful that will sustain their income. These women are impressive and smart and are not defined by the roles that society gives them. They empower each other, and other women in their community to be independent and to provide for themselves. The women I was lucky enough to work with at Sisters 4 Sisters have taught me that I am the only person that will define my success, and with determination and will power, I can be whoever I want to be. 

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Claire Quinn

<p>My name is Claire. I am a thrill seeking millennial that is out to experience all the world has to offer. This blog will chronicle the greatest adventure of my life so far, a semester in Cape Town, South Africa. I have no idea what to expect, but my love for traveling and trying new things, as well as learning from the people around me has pushed me off the beaten path, and onto something completely new. Here&#39;s to the next six months of my life, I hope every moment is as unpredictable as I am.</p>

Home university:
Gettysburg College
Major:
Other
Political Science
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