The aim of the Black Sash is to “enable all ... to recognise and exercise their human rights, particularly their social and economic rights” and to “work towards a South Africa in which the government is accountable to all its people and attends to their basic needs, and members of society (individuals and the private sector) also take responsibility for reducing inequality and extreme poverty”.
Our focus is on the following areas:
In this area we work for a comprehensive social security system that is based on principles of social solidarity and equity, and which makes provision for our high levels of poverty and unemployment.
In this area we work for a fair credit and consumer environment, particularly for the poor.
Social Services and Subsidies
In this area we work for the accountable, equitable and affordable delivery of good-quality social services, including health care and basic municipal services.
Decent Work and Livelihoods
This area of work is new within the Black Sash and subject to extensive exploration from a range of angles, including the role the UIF is playing in job creation and retention, protection of domestic workers and the contested area of migrant and seasonal work on farms.
Over the past five years, we have offered advice services to over 60 000 clients. Through this we have secured more than R65-million in social grantsand other financial provisions that were due to them and their dependants.
We have worked to strengthen the advice office sector to enable access to justice throughout South Africa, through initiating and working within the National Alliance for the Development of Community-based Advice Offices (NADCAO), as well as with individual Advice Offices. The Black Sash has developedParalegal Guides, information sheets and training manuals, which resource our training courses and support for paralegals.
The Black Sash conducts extensive public education to enable vulnerable people to understand and access their social and economic rights and to build a rights-based culture in South Africa. We have reached millions of people through the public media, though running thousands of workshops for leaders of organisations, and members of marginalised communities, and through our website, posters, flyers, DVDs and other rights education materials.
The Black Sash advocates for legislation and policy that promotes social and consumer protection, decent work and livelihoods for vulnerable people in South Africa. Our advocacy is focused on improving policies, laws, and implementation of systems so that they reflect the principles in the Constitution and the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
We use a range of approaches to achieve our goals – including submissions to Parliament, promoting ideas through the print and broadcast media, convening public and special-interest meetings, holding marches and pickets to raise the awareness, educating people about their rights, and supporting communities or those affected to mobilise, organise and speak for themselves and sometimes we initiate public interest litigation.