On 11 August 2016, the Soul City Institute (SCI) was relaunched as a feminist and social justice organisation that focusses on young women and girls and the communities they live in.
Although South Africa enjoys one of the world’s most visionary constitutions and comprehensive bill of rights, the country remains a deeply patriarchal society, where women are discriminated against. Women’s socio-economic empowerment and rights to gender equality have not advanced rapidly enough. Women still remain the worst affected by inequality, poverty, unemployment and unacceptable levels of gender-based violence. Intersectional feminism is vital to understanding how race, sexuality, and class are closely interrelated in South Africa.
The SCI is committed to giving the fullest expression to the values laid out in the preamble to the constitution, which calls for a society ‘based on democratic values, social justice, and fundamental human rights’. This will only be achieved when all social actors and civil society take active steps to ensure that all women and girls, whose rights are not yet fully realised, are empowered to become active citizens and able to take their rightful place as equals in society.
The SCI has a vision of a new society grounded in the philosophy of Ubuntu and South Africa’s codified human-rights that realises the rights of women, where gender equality is a key component of human dignity, and where no woman is excluded from personal security or equal opportunity, and can fulfil her potential. This includes the following aims:
- To promote social justice in all communities and walks of life so that all women are equal partners with equal rights in their own communities;
- To immediately realise the ideal of equality of opportunity for all women, so that there are no glass ceilings or societal barriers to any woman who wishes to dream big, work hard and fulfil their potential;
- To empower, support and promote women so that they can take their rightful place as equals in society;
- To challenge injustices in society wherever they occur, to fight for equitable treatment of all people and to promote human dignity and social justice for all.
The SCI’s primary target groups are young people aged 10-14 whose developmental opportunities in their formative years are limited by the economic and social circumstances of their birth, young women and girls aged 15-24 whose economic and social circumstances limit their ability to acquire skills and social capital to access economic opportunity and security, and woman and girls whose rights are marginalised in their communities because of their circumstances. The SCI is especially sensitive to the urban vs rural divide in South Africa.
The SCI is one of South Africa’s most successful NGOs, working in the field of social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) for over 20 years and innovating at the forefront of social change. It is internationally recognised as a world leader in the field and is one of the few Southern organisations which is a member of the Global Alliance for SBCC. From the ground-breaking Soul City television series to the Soul Buddyz Club (the only school-based programme shown to decrease HIV among young women), the SCI has a solid track record of working with other organisations and government to enable social change and drive social justice.
The SCI uses a combination of mass and social media, social mobilisation and advocacy as its SBCC tools. Social mobilisation is a particular strength of the SCI, with training, community dialogues, and community engagement central to the SCI communication process. An integral part of the SCI social mobilisation process is an ongoing engagement with children and young women through its club processes (Soul Buddyz Club and Rise Young Women’s clubs), building active citizenry and social cohesion.
The SCI pioneered the Jamboree model of service delivery, bringing services to people in outlying areas. Engaging with marginalised people and amplifying their voices is a particular focus of the SCI.
Soul City’s work is more important than ever, and its energising vision of social justice is an ‘idea whose time has come.’