Chevron South Africa, the refiner and marketer of Caltex fuel and lubricant products, has announced it's partnership with the Intervention with Micro Finance for AIDS and Gender Equity (IMAGE) project at a celebration event in Hammanskraal north of Pretoria.
The event highlighted the project's success to date in empowering women in the large rural communities of Hammanskraal and Mabopane which are recognised as previously disadvantaged areas.
IMAGE is a community based, HIV and gender-based violence prevention programme designed to reach disadvantaged women and their households. The intervention combines group-based micro finance with gender and a HIV training curriculum called Sisters for Life. The programme aims to improve women's economic well-being and independence, as well as to reduce their vulnerability to intimate partner violence, which is an independent driver of HIV.
"Chevron has partnered with the IMAGE programme since 2011 and has witnessed the remarkable work and progress that is happening within these communities. Therefore we saw it fitting to reflect on and celebrate the success the programme has accomplished thus far. It truly highlights the importance and effectiveness of partnerships and alignment between South African NGO's, communities and the public and private sector," says Nobuzwe Mbuyisa, chairperson of Chevron South Africa.
"In South Africa, gender based violence and HIV are two of the most pressing public health challenges, with women and girls comprising 55% of those infected with HIV and 25% of women reporting to have been physically abused by an intimate partner," says Mbuyisa. "Therefore we see the value in this programme and believe that initiatives such as IMAGE, focusing on key issues in South Africa, will definitely assist in advancing government's priorities of economic empowerment of women."
The IMAGE programme is a year long project and consists of a team of 12 trainers covering 96 centres with 40 clients per centre. A total of 4 752 women enrolled in the IMAGE programme at the end of December 2012.
Violence has reduced
"Through the combination of micro finance, gender and HIV training, we have already noticed that intimate partner violence has been reduced, while various dimensions of empowerment have increased amongst women such as self-confidence, autonomy in decision-making, better relationships with their partners and improved communication. We look forward to scaling up and reaching more women with the support of our partnerships," IMAGE project director, Lufuno Muvhango, says.
Chevron is committed to a social investment strategy that aligns with both the needs of the communities in which it operates and the priorities of the government of South Africa. The three core focus areas for Chevron's social investment strategy include economic development, health and education, and the IMAGE programme encapsulates all three elements.
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