People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that offers services to women in South Africa who have experienced domestic violence, sexual harassment, or rape, as well as to adult survivors of incest. Established in 1979, POWA is based in Berea, Johannesburg’s inner city area, and serves the entire Gauteng Province; it also has branches in Katlehong and Vosloorus in the East Rand, Sebokeng in the Vaal and Soweto. POWA aims to help enhance these women's quality of life and to reduce violence against all women through training and public awareness projects. The ultimate aim is to help create a safe society that does not tolerate violence against women, and where women are powerful, self-reliant, equal, and respected.
Communication Strategies: 

POWA works to empower women through a process of counseling, education, advocacy and lobbying. It reaches out in particular to those women who come from communities with limited resources. To that end, the organisation has two shelters that accommodate about 20 abused women and their children. POWA also seeks to reach men, perpetrators and young adults, especially through training and public awareness projects.

Among POWA's interpersonal communication approaches are outreach programmes that involve workshops and presentations in schools, clinics and organisations. POWA also works with women's support groups, training them in the areas of counseling and crisis handling. Specific activities include:

  • Providing a gender-sensitive therapeutic service to women who have suffered all forms of abuse, including sexual harassment and rape. This includes counselling as well as crisis intervention.
  • Providing shelter to women who have experienced abuse in their relationships.
  • Offering legal advice and court preparation to women who have been abused or raped.
  • Providing ongoing training and capacity building for volunteers and other service providers.
  • Offering awareness programmes to communities and organisations, with the specific aim of encouraging them to take responsibility for finding solutions to eradicate violence against women.
  • Facilitating economic empowerment projects for survivors of abuse to encourage financial independence and group networking.
  • Offering prevention programmes to facilitate early recognition of gender-based violence and intervention..
  • Advocating and lobbying for legislative and policy changes in the following sectors: Criminal Justice System, Health, Welfare, Housing, Correctional Services, Safety and Security, and Education. Part of this process involves working with networks and other organisations with similar objectives.

POWA also draws on information and communication technologies (ICTs) to support abused women. Its telephone helpline takes calls nationally, although it deals mainly with women in the Gauteng Province

Development Issues: 

Women, Gender, Rights.

Partner Text: 

Royal Netherlands Embassy, Department of Social Services & Population Development, National Lottery Development Trust, National Development Agency, Kimberly Murrayfield Trust, Nedcor, Agency for Personal Services Overseas (APSO).


POWA website on June 2 2005.