Sewing 4 Africa - skills training, solidarity and African sisterhood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article I discuss the women-led project called Sewing 4 Africa as an example of a development project where leadership qualities that embody a democratic, nurturing and people-centred process pose the possibilities for developing solidarity and sisterhood among women more broadly in skills building projects. My explication of sisterhood and solidarity is drawn from bell hooks’ (1994) ideas of feminism that aim to confront the shared oppressions of the women in the project and the creation of a collective consciousness to address these in the process of skills development. Begun with the objective of providing basic sewing skills for the purposes of employment and self-employment, the training programme was designed collaboratively between myself and its two organisers. Our process was underpinned by the principles of participatory design (Spinuzzi, 2005). The stories of three programme graduates are shared here to demonstrate that, when applied to uplift communities, sewing can become a platform for building the potential of women to begin to play a leading role as actors in the socio-economic development of their communities at grassroots levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-66
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • community sewing projects
  • participatory design
  • women’s leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies


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