August 19, 2021 1 Comment
What's the last thing that you did when you felt a sense of empowerment?
Did you start taking steps towards your biggest goal? Did you sign up for classes to get that degree you've always wanted? Or, did you finally approach that person you've always had a crush on?
Whether you did one of these things or something entirely different, when you feel a sense of empowerment, the world seems like it's at your fingertips. You start to feel a sense of inspiration, determination, and motivation. And these things all combine to push you towards whatever it is you want to achieve.
But when you're void of this empowerment—this deep sense of liberation to do what you hope to do—it's hard to get anything done. It can feel almost impossible to muster up the confidence to achieve the dreams you've harbored in your heart. And while it'd be great to say this discouragement rarely springs up and empowerment is easy to grow and maintain, many people could prove that scenario isn't the case.
For example, in Eswatini, Africa, most Swazis do not feel empowered. They do not have the enthusiasm and confidence they need to achieve their biggest dreams. In fact, many Swazis don’t dream about the future at all because they don’t have any hope, and that reality affects both adults and youth alike.
Why Eswatini struggles to foster empowerment
There are many ways to develop a sense of empowerment, but one of the primary ways is through employment, an opportunity that's not easily accessible in Eswatini. While it's hard to find accurate numbers on the situation, reports indicate that the unemployment rate in Eswatini has been as high as 70 percent.
Available research suggests that this number has decreased. Investopedia estimates that the unemployment rate in Eswatini at the end of 2020 was 22 percent. However, despite what seems to be an improvement, the media outlet still paints Eswatini as having one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, placing fourth in its analysis.
Statista, on the other hand, suggests a slightly different image of the unemployment rate in Eswatini. The data platform indicates that in 2020, the rate of Swazis unemployed was actually 23.4 percent, a small difference from what you see in Investopedia.
But regardless of the discrepancy, one thing is clear: the unemployment rate in Eswatini is extremely high. And its consequences are visible. Not only are most Swazis in Eswatini living in poverty and hunger, but they're also journeying through life without any real hope that things can change.
This disbelief is mainly because their dismal situation has been a reality for so long. Generations upon generations have struggled to find employment to lift their family out of turmoil, and it's not because the government isn't working on the people's behalf.
Officials have rolled out many programs and initiatives to curb the high unemployment rate, and their efforts have been helping. But it takes time and consistency to see the fruit of any endeavor, so while progress is happening, it's occurring at a slower (but expected) pace.
The impact of unemployment in Eswatini
The effects of unemployment don't just stop at a lack of empowerment. This challenge has a trickle-down effect that impacts various aspects of life. In fact, studies suggest that young adults in Eswatini experience mental health issues because of youth unemployment.
In a recent study, researchers found that several regions throughout Eswatini have high rates of mental health cases. Shiselweni—a region with a population of about 204,111 Swazis—is leading the pack at 63 percent.
The study also reports that 1,124 mental health patients in Eswatini are between the ages of 20 and 29, a gap where many young adults are usually starting their careers. However, the Swazis who participated in the study claim that it's challenging to find work in Eswatini and that school doesn't adequately lead toward a better future.
With little room to grow professionally, many of these young adults find themselves struggling with substance abuse and lacking a sense of identity and purpose. Of course, this also leads to a host of other issues like depression, hopelessness, and overall discontent with life, which is why it's so imperative to provide empowerment through employment to prevent other challenges from arising.
Marrying employment and empowerment
Employment and empowerment go hand-in-hand. With a job, you experience fulfillment and gain the financial resources you need to make a difference. That's why Khutsala Artisans, a Heart for Africa initiative, is doing everything it can to help provide jobs in Eswatini.
Khutsala Artisans hires wonderful, hard-working Swazis to hand-make beautiful home decor and jewelry. And not only does Khutsala Artisans provide employment, but as a member of Swaziland Fair Trade, which operates on the same principles as Fair Trade USA, Khutsala Artisans also pays its employees a great wage to help them live comfortably and prosper.
But it isn't the only initiative that's marrying employment and empowerment. Kufundza Carpentry and Lusito Mechanic Shop, two more Heart for Africa initiatives, provide training and job opportunities to Swazis in Eswatini. And Heart for Africa also has a school in Eswatini called Project Canaan Academy, which only employs Swazi teachers.
This drive to increase employment is helping instill a sense of empowerment in Swazis, and the effects of this feeling are vast. For example, here are just three things that empowerment is helping Swazis achieve.
In Eswatini, every employed Swazi is taking care of 13 people on their homestead. That means employing just 300 Swazis in Eswatini affects 4,000 people's lives. And thankfully, those effects are all positive.
With employment, the primary caregiver on homesteads can help lift their family out of poverty. They can provide food, clothes, shoes, shelter, and anything else that was once unattainable, giving their loved ones a better and healthier quality of life.
Primary education is free in Eswatini. Swazi officials know that many of their people can't afford their children's schooling, so they help by offering primary education at no cost.
This gift sets a lot of kids up for success, but even so, many Swazi children find themselves dropping out of school as soon as it's time to start their secondary education. Most Swazi adults can't afford to send their kids to secondary school because they don't have the income to do so.
But with a job, Swazi adults are empowered to provide for their kids' schooling to ensure they finish their education and find a great job. Some adults in Eswatini even take the step to complete their education now that they have the financial resources to do so, creating a sense of pride and accomplishment in their life.
When Swazis can provide for the people on their homestead and afford quality education, they develop a positive identity and a greater sense of purpose. They no longer wear labels that call them hopeless, defeated, and discouraged. Instead, they define themselves as hopeful, confident, and encouraged.
With this new identity, Swazis can start to dream of a new future. Unlike most Westerners, who are encouraged to have goals that they can work towards, Swazis are constantly thinking on a day-to-day level. They don’t have the opportunity to create dreams for the future. Instead, they have to focus on surviving, feeding their families, and making it to see another day.
But if Swazis feel empowered and develop purpose and a better identity, they will let themselves think about the future. They’ll start to create dreams and believe they can achieve them because they’ll finally have hope in their hearts.
Help provide employment and empowerment
If you want to come alongside Khutsala Artisans as it tries to provide employment and empowerment in Eswatini, you can do so easily. By shopping for handmade jewelry and home decor at Khutsala Artisans, you help make an impact. Purchasing a product helps Khutsala Artisans grow so that it can provide more job opportunities and give Swazis the quality of life that they deserve.So start shopping with purpose at Khutsala Artisans.
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