WEF delegates – it cannot be business as usual

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Delegates attending the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) say it cannot be business as usual while women on the African continent are being raped and murdered.

This comes as incidents of gender-based violence have come to the fore over the past few days following the recent rape and murder of UCT film student Uyinene Mrwetyana. Many students have taken to the streets of Cape Town to protest against femicide.

African Monitor Director Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, who was one of the participants of a panel discussion called ‘Eradicating violence against women’, said: “I am dumbfounded by the fact that we can continue with business as usual as if the crisis that we are facing as a country is in fact not a crisis.”

Mniki-Mangaliso said the meeting, which is currently in its second day, has a powerful delegation of business leaders who have the influence to contribute their resources to fight the scourge.

“For me, two or three things stand at the top of my head. First, we have some of the most powerful global leaders here, particularly heads of business. Why is it that they have not come together and said ‘how can we address this immediately?’

“Mechanisms like a gender-based violence fund, for example, is something that we have been calling for,” she said.

Gender-based violence should be a policy issue

As the meeting, which is aimed at having Heads of States and captains of industry from across the continent in one room, entered its second day, issues of gender-based violence dominated media headlines.

President Cyril Ramaphosa delegated Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to address a plenary session on the Fourth Industrial Revolution on his behalf so that he could address protesting students outside Parliament.

He is also due to address the nation this afternoon on the issue of gender-based violence.

The moderator, who announced the President’s apology to delegates, indicated that while the meeting was important, issues of gender-based violence had become a priority.

Speaking at the session on gender-based violence earlier on, Dr Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili, a Nigerian politician turned social activist, said gender-based violence must be prioritised and included on the agenda when governments discuss policy.

Ezekwesili, who recently participated in the Nigerian Presidential race, was at the forefront of a campaign to free the 300 girls who were abducted by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram.  

“What we see is a situation that entrenches a perception that when it has got to do with women, when it’s got to do with girls, it is not that important. It is not a policy topic.

“That must change. The matter of gender-based violence must be a policy topic,” she said. - SAnews.gov.za