While domestic abuse and sexual violence are familiar headlines in the Western Cape and South Africa, the Saartjie Baartman Centre works around the clock to provide services and an emergency shelter to women and children who are victims of abuse. Director of the Centre, Shaheema McLeod is a well-respected voice on gender rights locally and internationally.
Nominated for the Influential Business Woman of the Year Award in 2008 for her work in the field of gender-based violence and selected by the United States Embassy to represent the Saartjie Baartman Centre on a leadership exchange in the USA in 2010, McLeod has a number of achievements and accolades under her belt.
“It’s more than just a day job. I am motivated by the transformation we see in the women who pass through our shelter,” says McLeod. “Domestic violence is far too pervasive in South Africa and the need for our services is growing – we have seen a 65% increase in the last few years.”
The Saartjie Baartman Centre provides services to an estimated 600 clients per month and the shelter can house an average of 100 women and children at any given time. McLeod who heads the operational and strategic development as well as financial stability of the centre, was involved in the set up of a job skills programme at the Centre and has succeeded in securing a number of key partnerships with government and private entities.
She has completed a number of management courses, from marketing to business, in the non-profit organisation sector, and enjoys applying her skills to a cause she believes in; “When I took over as director in 2012, the Saartjie Baartman Centre was on the brink of closure; with the assistance of an amazing team, we were able to re-establish ourselves as experts in the area of gender based violence. Now the Centre is financially stable and we are going from strength to strength. I hope to continue to raise the profile of the Saartjie Baartman Centre; there is still so much that needs to be done in the way of gender rights in South Africa.”
The Saartjie Baartman Centre offers crisis response, shelter, counselling, legal advice and job skills training to women and children who have experienced abuse. To date, they have assisted more than 100 000 people – including trans-gender people, trafficked women and refugees. Visit www.saartjiebaartmancentre.org.za for more information.
Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications:
021 447 1082 / 082 824 8617
On behalf of the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children:
Director: Shaheema McLeod