From Survivors to Businesswomen: I CAN DO IT

From Survivors to Businesswomen
In Rivers State, Nigeria, GWIHR unfolds a transformational journey of six months between January and July 2023 that would forever remain remarkable in the lives of two sex workers who are survivors of sexual violence.

This journey was made possible through the unwavering dedication of the GWIHR under African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF)’s KASA Initiative funding.
The story began in January 2023, when GWIHR organized its first gender empowerment workshop under the KASA initiative funding for sex workers who are survivors of sexual violence.

During the workshop, they were not just recipients of information; rather, participants were engaged in a robust dialogue to shape their perceptions of themselves and their potential.

GWIHR extensively spoke on equal rights that every woman, including sex workers, deserve and assured survivors that there are untapped reservoirs of strength and possibilities that lay beyond the shadows of their pasts, hence kindling a spark of empowerment that began to illuminate the path to change for the participants.

Among the participants, two survivors, each with stories of resilience and determination, stood out and dared to dream beyond their current circumstances.

With their interests piqued and their determination ignited, the survivors enrolled in a skills academy sponsored by GWIHR. Here, they harnessed their potential, channelling their energy into acquiring new skills that would enable them to escape the vulnerability that had marked their pasts.

One embraced the art of tailoring, stitching together not just fabrics but also a future filled with dignity and independence. The other embarked on a journey into the world of hairdressing, not just crafting hairstyles but weaving together her identity as a survivor and a businesswoman.

As the months unfolded, these two survivors emerged as true inspirations as GWIHR guided and transformed their newfound skills into flourishing small-scale businesses. July 2023 became a landmark month as their dreams manifested into reality.

The survivor-tailor opened her workshop, where the whirring of sewing machines symbolized resilience, while the survivor-hairdresser adorned her salon with beauty and strength that comes from breaking free.

Their success was more than just entrepreneurial triumph; it was a testament to the indomitable power of knowledge, resilience, and the unwavering spirit of feminism. The ripples of change extended beyond the two survivors, touching the entire sex workers’ community. Empowerment became a collective anthem as women began to see themselves as architects of their destinies, capable of shaping their futures.

The story of GWIHR’s intervention, woven with threads of hope and empowerment, became a beacon for change across Rivers State and beyond. These two sex workers who were survivors, once marked by their pasts, were now shaping their futures with confidence, proving that transformation is possible when met with opportunity, support, and the unyielding belief in the strength of the human spirit.

Through GWIHR’s intervention, a chapter of resilience and empowerment was etched in these women’s lives, forever reminding the world of the power of compassion and the strength of feminism.
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