Gender

Scat places women at the centre of our gender policy. This does not mean that Scat sees gender as a 'women's issue'. We recognize that the gender inequities that prevail in our society are based on biased stereotyping, which traps men as well as women, heterosexuals as well as persons with different sexual orientations. We recognize too, that gendered discrimination is a complex matter, deeply imbedded in culture, religion, racialised loyalties and history. It is a radical discrimination, firmly sustained through unbridled violence against women and through deliberately designed economic and class systems that view as inevitable - even acceptable - the fact that large numbers of people live in abject poverty. 

Of these people living in poverty, the vast majority are women and many of those women are rural women. For centuries women have been systematically deprived of basic human rights and essential survival resources - including reproductive rights and the right to own land. In many local cultures and settings they are still deprived of these rights in practice, despite the protection and freedoms enshrined in South Africa's world-renowned Constitution and Bill of Rights.

So, for now, Scat places women at the centre of a crosscutting gender policy that guides our efforts to effect social change. We do whatever we can to create spaces in which women can find and renew their own inherent power; in which they are recognized and supported as leaders; in which they have access to information and learning opportunities; in which they feel safe - both physically and to express their views; in which their contributions are recognized and they are affirmed.

At programme level for example, a criteria for a rural local development agency (LDA) to receive funding from Scat is that women should be represented at all levels of that organization, and particularly in decision making positions - whether these be as members of staff or of community-based governance structures. The intention is to increase the status of women in rural communities, giving them access to capacity building opportunities, either through workshops run by Scat or by providing funds for women to attend training opportunities outside the scope of Scat's training. This intention applies in the access to justice, local economic development and the HIV and AIDS programmes.

Placing women at the centre does not mean Scat ignores men. For example, we are working closely with men in a context which offers them many opportunities to change - that of HIV and AIDS. It is our observation that there is a view that women should deal with HIV and AIDS. Women are indeed more likely to be infected with the virus - often through no fault of their own; more likely to carry the burden of care for those who become sick with opportunistic diseases; more likely to be blamed for their children's behaviour and for the transmission of the virus to their new babies; more likely to travel huge distances for health care and more likely to be subjected to violence. But, these factors do not make women responsible. On the contrary, Scat believes that a balanced participation of men - together with the improved status of women - will contribute to more effective prevention programmes and ultimately, a transformation of gender relations. With this in mind, Scat also works to increase the level of participation by men in care and support programmes. We trust that through men's direct experience of the burdens of those living with HIV or AIDS and of those who care for them, the men will become more aware and more active in spreading a prevention and care message to their peers.

As an organisation, Scat employs men and women. However, whenever there is a vacancy Scat pays particular attention to exploring opportunities for women to join the staff or our governing trust. Our staff policies - for men and women - include a child care policy, child sick leave, generous parental leave and a sexual harassment policy.

We recognize that change does not happen overnight and that many issues challenge us on a day-to-day basis. It remains our sincere belief that gender equity is at the core of a transformed society

Scat recently completed a Joint Gender Fund partnered Programme, which spanned over two years.  Under this programme, ten Local Development Agencies or Rural Partners of Scat initiated gender focussed work and recieved significant training in pertinent gender issues.  Links to publications which provide the Baseline information in which the Programme occured as well as a detailed Evalaution of the Programme will be posted soon.