Exploring women's participation in empowerment programmes: a case of the Potter's House-Tshwane Leadership Foundation (TLF) in Pretoria, South Africa
Nyathi, Musawenkosi Violet
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Orientation: Women's participation has a positive effect on the success of their empowerment programmes because it allows them to be at the centre of their own development initiatives. Research purpose: This study explored how the Potter's House facilitates women's participation in the implementation of their empowerment programmes. The Potter's House is one of the programmes of the Tshwane Leadership Foundation (TLF), a NonGovernmental Organisation (NGO), based in Pretoria, South Africa. The study used elements of the Capabilities Approach (CA) and Women's Empowerment Framework (WEF) to analyse the Potter's House's work in empowering women. Research questions: The questions that the researcher was concerned with in this study were as fol lows: 1. How does the Potter's House involve its beneficiaries in the women's empowerment programmes? 2. To what extent do women have space to contribute to the empowerment programmes as equal participants? 3. What capabilities do women who make use of the Potter's House value for their wellbeing? 4. How does the Potter's House contribute to the realisation of these capabilities? 5. How does the Potter's House contribute (or not) to the agency of participating women? 6. How can the Potter's House's work be improved? Research design, approach and method: The author conducted this descriptive and exploratory case study that was analysed through the core qualitative methods of in-depth interviews with 15 participants drawn from the Potter's House staff and former beneficiaries. Thematic analysis and narrative analysis were used to analyse data obtained from this case study. Main findings: The author found that participation is useful in implementing women's empowerment programmes. The Potter's House facilitates participati on in implementing its programmes with a number of challenges, which include; financial limitations, agency versus wrong choices, individual differences and preferences, limited skills among staff and beneficiaries. Identifying and better understanding these challenges provided the basis from which to formulate the following study conclusions. Practical/managerial implications: The findings may guide the Potter's House and other women's empowerment projects to strengthen empowerment programmes geared towards outcomes that women have reason to value. Contribution/value-add: This study contributes to an evolving body of knowledge aimed at understanding active participation for implementing women's empowerment programmes and points to the value of researching women's empowerment through the lens of the capabilities approach and the women's empowerment framework.