Inspiring Poor Women to Empower Themselves: Insights and Lessons from Botswana

Inspiring Poor Women to Empower Themselves: Insights and Lessons from Botswana

Keitseope Nthomang (University of Botswana, Botswana)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1207-4.ch053
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Empirical studies on the impact of micro level intervention strategies on poverty among poor women in Botswana are lacking, yet women are a valuable asset for the economy of the country. Continued marginalization and disempowerment of women has become a serious problem which merit urgent attention. This article investigates the potential of the Grow Model in transforming the lives of 14 women who belong to the Kgopolano GROW Group in Molepolole, Botswana. Data was collected in May 2014 using primarily in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. The analysis utilized both content and thematic approaches. The results showed how the Grow Model has inspired women to empower themselves and self-transform into productive and prosperous lives. The results affirm the strength of the GROW model in promoting empowerment for social change in marginalized contexts. Key policy recommendations recognizes the limitations of the GROW model and build on its strengths.
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The Women’S Profile

The critical questions are: Who are these poor women? Where do they originate from? What do they represent and what have they done to deserve documentation? These are not simple questions that carry no implications. These are questions that are asked to those who have made a difference in their own and other people’s lives. The women studied are poor rural women from Borakalalo Ward, Molepolole – Botswana. The Kgopolano GROW Group came into existence in 2011 with support from one of the local NGO - Hope Worldwide Botswana (HwwB). Borakalalo is a ward in Molepolole with a high concentration of social problems. It has a higher representation of social ills such as poverty, unemployment, and HIV and AIDS. The reason for these vulnerabilities could be attributed to the following factors: lack of economic opportunities, unavailability of information on government economic empowerment programs, female headed households (most of whom are poor) and lack of support from the family, community, government, NGOs and other stakeholders. Taken together, these conditions have led to a debilitating sense of powerlessness and hopelessness in the community. The women deserve attention because they represent the poor who have tirelessly worked together to reach their goals, with no or minimal formal education, virtually no formal work experience. They still work their agricultural land and had no background in running an empowerment self-help group. Given that most of them are single mothers or widows, they largely follow a traditional life style of subsistence farming in order to take care of their children and families. Despite their background, they mobilized themselves into a self-help group known as Kgopolano GROW group. The group’s overarching goal is empowerment of self-using the GROW model. Since its inception in 2011, the Kgopolano GROW group has provided the physical energy, local knowledge and skills towards achieving its objectives of transforming the lives of poor women. Their hope and confidence in the ability to change their lives for the better continues to be the source of inspiration for the group members.

This article shares an empowerment journey of the women through active participation in the Kgopolano GROW group implementing the GROW model. The ultimate aim of the women is to empower themselves by transforming their lives from poverty to sustainable livelihoods. This article tells a story of how the women have worked against all the odds to create their own source of wealth and livelihood. It is important to point out that this article is not a critic of the empowerment journey in terms of achievement, rather, it articulates the power of self-mobilization to empower and transform lives through the GROW model.

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