The lives of unemployed women from poverty-stricken communities around Durban are set to change for the better. A programme run by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, in collaboration with Durban fashion designer Greg Wallis and Jirah Fashion Factory, has given them an opportunity to begin work in the clothing industry.
At the beginning of June, the women began five weeks of theoretical and practical training. The training included an introduction to design and pattern-making, working on a machine as well as other clothing and textile-related functions. Each trainee will be issued with a certificate at the end of the workshop.
This is the second group of women to undergo training, and the number of applications had grown since the first training programme ran last year.
Designer Wallis explained: “Participants are split into two groups, rotating lesson times between morning and afternoon. Half of the 2016/17 participants have since found employment, some at the Jirah Fashion Factory.”
One the participants, Bathobile Zincube, 38, encouraged rural women to grab opportunities like this because they were rare. “I was sitting helpless at home without a job. But now I am employed here at the Jirah Fashion Factory. The money I will be getting will help me to provide for my kids and look after myself,” she said.
Another participant, Nombifikile Mtolo, 44, said she was thankful for the chance to be part of the training. “I am not looking for employment but I will create employment myself. I am planning to manufacture school uniforms, clothes, clothing peg bags and bedding. The skills that we have got here will help us provide for our families. We thank the government for considering us rural women in opportunities like this,” she said.
A hand up
The initiative, which forms part of government’s Comprehensive Rural Development Programme, aims to tackle underdevelopment, food security, unemployment, poverty and other social ills prevalent in rural areas.
Department of Arts and Culture MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi said the initiative would create a well-trained, reliable workforce in the clothing industry.
“The project is in line with government strategies to build an inclusive economy and create jobs. We are determined to see previously disadvantaged people like women taking charge of their lives and being active participants in the growth and development of the province’s economy.
“We are proud of the strides being made by the project. Trainees could find entry-level salary jobs in the clothing industry using the training they are receiving, which will assist in alleviating unemployment and poverty,” she said.