Assessing the benefits of empowering rural women through local economic development initiatives in Port St. Johns Municipality.
Fodo, Sinazo Ayabulela.
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South Africa is viewed as one of the developing countries in Africa. Regardless of the advancements recorded, the local impact of the broad development is as yet needing. This may be because of the inheritances of the apartheid regime. Amid the apartheid period, development was isolated. The White people profited more from development at the disservice of the Black populace in South Africa. Gender inequality was at its most noteworthy pervasiveness. Women occupied the least societal position when contrasted with men. In any case, post 1994 the democratic government executed expanded desires for the citizens as it guaranteed the public of the delivery of services for the improvement of their lives. Hence, while attempting to decrease racial and exceptional incongruities through advancing the improvement of the already hindered territories, there was a presentation of Local Economic Development (LED). LED has been seen as an initiative that is able to address local socio-economic challenges and to promote local growth and development. Critically in this way, developmental institutions were commanded in addition to other things to develop the strengthening of empowerment of women on the agenda of all their developmental projects and introduce innovative ways to promote gender equality. Women empowerment implies giving women the opportunity or capacity to experience life the way they want. It enables them to identify their skills, knowledge and capacities to settle on their own choices. It is a dynamic and development process for women which incorporates awareness, achievement and completion of skills. This is to state that women empowerment on LED will improve the status of women through literacy, education, training and creating awareness. In this manner, women empowerment on LED will ensure that women are equipped to make choices that will improve their standard of living. However, the issue of development in South Africa is that, it is just specific to urban regions. Put in another path, in spite of incredible strands appreciated in growing South Africa, imbalance and underdevelopment is as yet overflowing. Rural women are as yet looked with challenges that may hinder their development. A number of rural women lack awareness and knowledge, are exposed to inequality, are unemployed and exposed to poverty. The point of this investigation was to basically break down the benefits of empowering rural women through developing LED activities. The objectives of the study were to: (a) assess the benefits of empowering women through LED initiatives in the rural settings of Port St Johns municipality; (b) assess the major LED projects run by the municipality that are beneficial to women; (c) assess the capacity at which the municipality is able to empower women through training and development for effective participation in local economic development initiatives in Port St Johns municipality; and (e) evaluate the challenges associated with the implementation of local economic development initiatives in Port St Johns municipality. The study is qualitative in nature, thus the researcher employed qualitative techniques to gather data. The researcher employed a thematic analysis as a mechanism to analyse data collected from the participants.The researcher also utilized the purposive sampling method and aimed at interviewing twenty participants consisting of one municipal manager, one LED manager, one Ward Councillor, one traditional leader, four small businesses owned by rural women and twelve rural women of Port St Johns municipality in Swazini Administrative Area. However, due to certain circumstances the researcher managed to interview sixteen participants, consisting of one municipal manager, one LED manager, one ward committee, one traditional leader, two small businesses owned by rural women and ten rural women of Port St Johns municipality in Swazini Administrative Area. The researcher assembled that within Swazini administrative area women continue to be exposed to poverty, a number of women are unemployed, no real economic activities exists within the area, LED initiatives are promptly accessible, women lack financial support to run existing projects, lack of information, lack of responsiveness to LED initiatives, lack of proper infrastructure, lack of intergovernmental support, no training and development initiatives exist within the area and women have moved from rural areas to find greener pasture. The researcher suggests that , the Port St Johns municipality must introduce training and development workshops, form partnerships with other stakeholders, introduce mentors for existing projects, initiate projects that target women that will alleviate poverty and unemployment, disseminate information on LED, the municipality must converse with the traditional leader and Ward Councillor and find common grounds on how to boost the economy of the area and the municipality must seek intergovernmental intervention and encourage the participation of women in LED initiatives.