Dressed in blue, dozens of young South African women have started attending the Chrysalis Academy programme in Cape Town.
The initiative was launched in 2000 with the aim of fighting high crimes rates by taking young people from the city's toughest streets and providing them with skills for employment.
"They treat us as women, but they making us independent. They are making us, to know that we can do it. Even if you think that you can't do it. They make us think that we can do it. They they give us strength that we didn't even know that we had", said Chrsyalis Academy student, Zenandi Hambiso.
The Academy runs three courses, two for men and one for women.
"We specifically want to focus on women. Because in society generally, women and particularly black women are still at the end of the queue with respect to opportunities", admitted Lucille Meyer, CEO of Chrysalis Academy.
Cape Town ranks among the most dangerous places in the world. In 2021 there were 64 killings per 100,000 people, the highest rate in the country.
"I think there should be more programs that should be done in our communities, not just to empower the females. But also, I think we should start a little bit earlier with our with our program so a 12 year old girl is really going through her menstrual cycle is already entering into becoming a lady and respecting herself and and those type of things", added Emma-Jo Arendse, a Youth Hub Coordinator at the Academy.
The course focus is on fitness and discipline, as well as mental wellbeing and vocational skills combined with four weeks of vocational training.
Nigerian prostitution mob boss extradited to Italy
UN chief says world failing to achieve gender equality
Go to video
Central African Republic: the invisible scale of intra-family sexual violence
Lack of jobs responsible more for violent extremism in sub-Saharan Africa - UNDP
Go to video
Sub-Saharan Africa is new epicenter of extremism, with 48% of global terrorism deaths - Report
Pope Francis listens to horrible tales of war victims in DRC: 'Your tears are my tears"