This profile was prepared when Lesley Foster was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Violence against women and girls is an especially pervasive South African problem and Lesley Foster is convinced that it can be successfully combated only through concerted efforts that combine effective steps to address the needs of its victims at the grassroots level with imaginative efforts to heighten awareness and stimulate the vigorous response of public authorities and private groups throughout the country. Accordingly, she has created a new organization that is providing counseling, stimulating the organization of support groups and helping women who are victims of violence to obtain job skills training and the attendant economic independence that will permit them to break free from abusive relationships. She has also organized a study that will establish the full dimensions of the problem in the Eastern Cape province and serve as a key element in a well-orchestrated nationwide campaign to focus attention on the problem of violence against women and spur the development of needed actions in every province and sector of the country.