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Young women and empowerment: A focussed ethnography of an intervention nexus

This research aims to understand how empowerment operates within a SRH intervention. The intervention that this research will focus on is called Bumb’ingomso (BI), based in East London. Bumb’ingomso’s intervention model combines behavioural, biomedical, social and economic interventions. Bumb’ingomso is a comprehensive youth development and empowerment programme focused on empowering women from the ages of 15 to 25.  The Bumb’Ingomso website states that their mission is to “inspire, support and motivate young people in making healthy choices in order to mold their own future and address the high incidence of HIV amongst women'' (Bumb’Ingomso, 2019).  

The Bumb’ingomso leadership network (BLN) is a practical programme that takes young women through a series of modules focusing on personal development and leadership. The BLN consists of clubs, camps and the innovation programme for young women. The Bumb’ingomso clubs are an interactive peer platform, based in communities. Young women involved in the clubs attend weekly meetings at local community halls, schools or churches. At these meetings they are given access to information and personal development opportunities. The BI camp is a residential programme to enrich young women’s personal development and leadership through a series of modules. The innovative programme follows from the camp and is initiated by young women who want to start a community-based project (Bumb’Ingomso, 2019). 

This research focuses on the power relations within the discursive field and social practices of an intervention. These power relations will aid in understanding how empowerment operates within a SRH intervention and how empowerment is perceived by those taking part and deploying the intervention. The Foucauldian understanding of the knowledge/power nexus, discourses, social practices and the multiplicity of power relations will be used in conjunction with the application of a sexual and reproductive justice framework (SRJF). By doing this, this research can help inform how critical qualitative research can benefit SRH interventions and by extension those that take part in the intervention. This research has the potential to create a proposed SRH empowerment framework that can be used to help structure and deploy empowerment for SRH interventions in South Africa.


Cassandra Robertson

Dr Tracey Feltham-King

Last Modified: Tue, 25 Aug 2020 15:54:19 SAST