What it means to become a Federation
On August 29, 2014, Zimele made history by being the first women-led organization to reach Federation level in South Africa. What exactly is a Federation and why is it so monumental?
1,208 Zimele women represent the Federation, all representing various Cluster Level Associations from all over Swayimane, in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa.
A Federation is a body that is officially recognized by the government and other policymakers to have a voice in expressing needs, and raising questions, on behalf of the communities they represent.
The mission of the Federation is to have a voice in the barriers that prevent development opportunities of the communities of Swayimane, and to advocate for their communities’ needs and interests. The Federation will work to further develop their economy through things like increasing market opportunities to expand businesses and establishing loans and investments, and also advocate social needs- such as having better access to health care, and education. The Federation will have access to government officials, local institutions, and other influencers to have a platform to affect change in the economic and social landcape of Swayimane.
Zimele started working towards empowering the women to form a Federation in 2011. The Clusters of Swayimane underwent evaluation exercises from an external evaluator, and took learnings from Federations in India to apply a similar model to make a Federation work in South Africa. After years of research, prep, and mobilizing the women in the Clusters, Zimele officially reached Federation level this summer with an official launch event on August 29.
The end goal for the Federation is the mission of Zimele itself, to help these women stand on their own two feet. By having a platform and being powerful enough to be heard and seen on issues that have for so long been barriers to breaking the cycle of poverty, the Federation is the key to becoming self-sufficient enough to no longer need Zimele staff members, and to eventually sustain independent livelihoods.