Freedom meaningless without women's safety

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Minister for Women in the Presidency, Susan Shabangu, says freedom will be meaningless if the home is no longer a safe place to be for women and children.

The Minister was speaking on Tuesday during her Parliamentary debate ahead of the launch of the 16 Days of Activism campaign.

“We must be worried about what has happened in our psyche as a society. We need to integrate values of Ubuntu with our democratic values. These values must be reflected into our actions. We need a discourse on the destruction of our cultural norms. Freedom would be meaningless if women and children cannot walk freely in our streets,” said Minister Shabangu.

In May 2012, the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Root Causes of Violence against Women and Children was established to investigate the root causes of violence against women and children with the objective to develop a comprehensive strategy. The Committee comprises the Ministers of Social Development, Women, Justice and Constitutional Development, Health, Home Affairs, Police and Basic Education.

The work of the Committee resulted in a diagnostic review to determine government’s response to Violence Against Women and Children by reviewing both the institutional and programmatic mechanisms by which government addresses Violence Against Women and Children.

The Minister said partnerships which yield dialogue and engagement are key to obtaining an understanding of violence and abuse against women and children.

“These [National] dialogues enable us to engage with communities to better understand the root causes of violence against women and children. They provide a platform for victims and perpetrators of violence against women and children to interact and to find common solutions.”

Dialogues have been concluded in the Limpopo, Northern Cape and in Mpumalanga Provinces. They took place in all district municipalities of these provinces.

Next in line is the Eastern Cape which will see the inclusion of Imbumba Ya Makhosikazi, the wives of traditional leaders who are concerned about violence against women and children.

Preliminary findings from the dialogues

Preliminary findings from the dialogues include a number of identified factors perpetuating gender-based violence in society - social, traditional and cultural norms that facilitate gender-based violence.

These findings reveal that violence against women and children arises out of poverty, despair and substance abuse. The Department of Women shares such information with the provincial government and relevant institutions to help inform policy interventions.

“It is also expected that the findings arising from the National Dialogues will contribute to the revision of the Integrated Programme of Action Against Violence Against Women and Children to be completed in 2018.”

Vision 2030 of the National Development Plan and the UN Sustainable Development Goals sets targets for addressing persistent discrimination against women and addressing patriarchal attitudes and challenges of triple challenges of inequality and access to education.

Involvement of men

The Minister commended the increasing involvement of men, who have taken a stand and declared “#Not in their Name”, “#Stop Excuses” and “#There is No Excuse for Violence”.

She said conversations on the role of men in changing gender relations are a necessity in a society that cares about changing attitudes and mindsets in transforming unequal power relations between men and women.

In a bid to increase the participation of men, the Men’s parliament held this past weekend, resolved to host sittings every two years at national level, annually at provincial level and six months at district level every three months at local level and daily, weekly and monthly at ward and street level.

“Men are now talking about the problems of absent fathers and impact on families and the need to impart values. These campaigns will help nurture young boys to become better citizens that uphold the Constitution,” said the Minister.

A five-year “#No Excuse” campaign to change behaviours and work with over 10 000 taverns to prevent violence associated with alcohol abuse was also announced by the Minister during the debate.

Ahead of the 16-Days of Activism launch set to take place this weekend, Minister Shabangu called on men to be the centre of advocacy in tackling the scourge of violence against women and children.

Namola App

Initiatives such as the national roll-out of the Namola app was welcomed as a move towards combatting the scourge of abuse in communities.

Namola is a crime response app that allows users to share their GPS co-ordinates, name and nature of the emergency with a 24/7 response call centre. This online panic button guarantees users a call back within 90 seconds. It points out exact location, making it easy for emergency services and the Police to respond effectively. Cellphones are useful tools in our fight against gender–based violence. Since its launch, there have been more than 100 000 downloads.

Business sector initiatives

The Minister highlighted that the business sector has taken a stand in supporting the fight against crime and violence against women and children. She highlighted that DialDirect, sponsored the Namola App and First4Women has invested money to fighting gender-based violence.

She noted that continuous partnerships with the faith-based organisations such as the Rhema Church – UmKhosi wa Madoda, National Religious Leaders Forum, the Jewish Board of Deputies as key stakeholders to addressing the safety of women and children as their audiences are highly receptive to their messages.

“Through these partnerships, we have grown awareness regarding the negative impact of gender-based violence through the #365 Days campaign and how to eradicate it. We have also increased reporting on gender-based violence in partnership with the Police. More community members are able to identify abuse and have the confidence to report violations of their rights and dignity."

As a parting shot, the Minister emphasized that in order to tackle this societal scourge, a multidisciplinary approach among government, civil society and the private sector was needed. – SAnews.gov.za

 

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