Who are we?
Health Empowerment Rights (H.E.R) is an organisation whose mandate is to amplify the voice of marginalised women, and therefore create an enabling environment for the versatility of women, introspection, self appreciation, and diversity in addressing issues affecting women. H.E.R does this through training and education, as well as partnership building and advocacy within Botswana and across the Southern Africa sub region. H.E.R. is based in Gaborone and works in the city and surrounding areas. Our members are young feminists, lesbian women, bisexual women, women who have sex with women (WSW), adolescents, HIV positive women and transwomen. We have twenty members and we communicate with them via WhatsApp, facebook, and phone calls. Each target group has a leader who represents them in board meetings, other processes, and events. Members pay a fee of P120 annually, which is our main source of funding. Four volunteers – Founder/Director, Finance Officer, Mobilising Officer, and a KP REACH REACTor– lead most of our work. As part of the KP REACH programme, we work on issues of access to health and other services. What was the issue? Botswana has successfully implemented the UNESCO vision of an Education for All. Basic primary and secondary education are afforded to all citizens at little or no cost, and tertiary
education is supported by government initiatives such as education grants and loans. Yet, a large percentage of girls and boys have been forced out of school by systemic factors, such as poverty, that prevent them from fully enjoying these benefits. They face unplanned pregnancies; and they lack basic human needs like school uniforms and stationery. This exposes them to harsh weather conditions, as well as bullying and humiliation. At the same time, women are often perceived as victims/oppressed, rather than as change makers. They tend to be invisible and their participation in their communities is not recognized. What change did we want to see?
• Children remaining in school with dignity. We wanted to raise funds for provision of new and warm school uniforms to under-privileged primary school children in rural areas of Botswana.
• A spirit of giving back and charity work. We wanted to raise awareness about these issues and promote a spirit of giving back among our members and in the general society.
• Women being seen as change agents who can think for themselves and organise. We wanted to increase recognition and appreciation of women as actors at the forefront of the implementation of the vision 2016 pillar of a compassionate, just and caring nation.
What did we do?
We started a campaign called “Have a Heart” to collect uniforms for underprivileged children. After the success of a similar campaign with our members in 2015, we decided to run a bigger, better campaign in 2016.