Society at large should be at the forefront of the fight against gender-based violence, says International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor.
The Minister made the remark while addressing delegates during a multi-stakeholder workshop to validate the draft National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security for South Africa. The workshop comes as South Africa celebrates Women's Month.
Defence and Military Veterans Minsiter Nosiviwe Maphisa-Nqakula and Women, Youth and People with Disabilities Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane also addressed the event. The three Departments, together with the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) constitute a National Task Team that coordinates the work of the steering committee.
“I think it is not solely government that can do this. I believe it is us and civil society that have a premier role to play in ensuring that we confront this diabolical problem in our country and ensuring that we address it. It will not be solved by women on their own, it will not be solved by government on its own – it will be a joint action, unity of purpose among all of us as South Africans and it will straddle from national to provincial to local [and] to the very streets that we will,” she said.
Women have over long periods played instrumental roles in preventing conflict and in peace building.
“We wish to continue to ensure that women play this role but we believe that their role must go beyond that, and we must stress this. We want women to be party to the process after peace has been achieved because we have noticed that we include women at certain points and then exclude them when power is being exercised,” she said.
“We are now going to insist that we want to see more women envoys, we want to see women participating in constitutional discussions. We want to see women being a visible component in whatever legislative institution emerges from peace processes.”
She said that even though women never instigate wars, these vulnerable groups were always the most affected by its consequences.
Pandor said South Africa would continue to use its membership to the UN Security Council to find peaceful resolutions on conflict through political dialogue.
Maphisa-Nqakula said prevention of conflict is critical, adding that it is difficult to stop a conflict once it starts. Peace and stability, she added, must pave the way for prosperity.
Nkoana-Mashabane said women oppression should be a thing of the past, adding the country should now be focusing on the transformation of the economy.
Speaking at the event, United Nations South African representative Nardos Bekele-Thomas said South Africa has much to offer to the world in terms of conflict management and peace building. Her belief, she said, stemmed from the fact that South Africa has lived these experiences and emerged victorious.
Singing praises of what she described as the resilience of South African women, Bekele-Thomas said the country’s resilience was demonstrated during the darkest days of the country.
“To negotiate for a women quota in decision-making. This has contributed to the high number of women in high political positions and in the public service. The question we are asking today is: how can South Africa share its good practices,” she said.
South Africa’s UN Security Council membership, she said, gives the country an opportunity to share lessons with member states and to accelerate women peace and security commitments including the implementation of the international action plan on safety and security around the world. – SAnews.gov.za