FIERCE: Cops halt protesters from invading the CTICC, venue of the World Economic Forum
FIERCE: Cops halt protesters from invading the CTICC, venue of the World Economic Forum

WATCH: African women have called on business and state leaders at the World Economic Forum to head solutions for gender based violence

By Mary-Jane Mphahlele and Vuyo Fundam Time of article published Sep 5, 2019

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Women from across the African continent have called on heads of states and business leaders at the World Economic Forum (WEF) to prioritise the safety of women and children in the continent.

Speaking at the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa hosted in Cape Town, South Africa, Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso of African Monitor, wasted no time in suggesting a tangible solution, calling on tech companies to create an emergency response system.

“We need to ask the question as to what we can do as a platform, big as the World Economic Forum. For me two or three things stand out at the top of my head. You have the most powerful African global leaders here. 

“Why is it that they have not come together and say how can we address this immediately. For instance, interesting mechanism such as the gender based violence fund for example, is something that we have been calling for. There are tech companies that are here, tech businesses, entrepreneurs, speed data companies that are here, (sic)” said Mniki-Mangaliso. 

This comes as the numbers on gender based violence are on the rise in Africa, more particularly South Africa.The South African Police Service regularly releases a breakdown of murder victims by age group and sex. Their latest data show that 20 336 people were murdered in 2017/18. 

According to the most recent data from 2017/18, a woman is murdered every three hours in South Africa.

The recent spike of killing has seen renewed calls for the death penalty in the country for those who are convicted of rape or murder.

Mniki-Mangaliso however charged that WEF was the right platform to come up with solutions for the scourge of violence against women and children.

“It will take a click of a finger for a tech company to say we are going to deploy a software that can assist us with an emergency response system for poor women in South Africa for free of charge. Why has that not happened. If WEF does not exist for us to come up with creative mechanisms like that, not just to create value in economies but to support people to live better lives,” said Mniki-Mangaliso.

The escalating violence against women and children prompted South Africans from all walks of life to take a stance and call for more decisive action from the government.

Mniki said leaders and technology companies can and should come together to create solutions that will readily help women and children.

“The tech entrepreneurs that are here, big data companies that are here, can you deploy a solution, not just for South Africa but Africa which women can use as an emergency response when they need help,” she said. 

Hafsat Abiola-Costello, of the Women in Africa Initiative, said Africa should heed China’s lead, by banning practices that hurt women - in China that was feet binding and polygamy, in Africa it would include genital mutilation.

“In Africa neither the private or the state are strong enough to drive change, however we have stronger communities which are driven by women. Our women can drive the African continent if given the chance, provided that their rights are respected and they are equally protected,” said Abiola-Costello.

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