Durban - KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has challenged men to be at the forefront of the fight against gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide and to champion change, social cohesion and peace in communities.
Zikalala was speaking yesterday at a men’s march against GBV, which started at the King Dinuzulu Park and ended at the eThekwini Municipality City Hall to launch the Men’s Month campaign.
Zikalala was accompanied by Sport, Arts and Culture MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela, Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane and eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda.
The Men’s Month campaign is an initiative of the provincial government, which is supported by the KZN Provincial Men’s Forum and seeks to tackle challenges men are grappling with in the home, at work and in society at large.
He said men are lovers and protectors. However, their name is dragged through the mud by those men who have no respect for women and the law.
“It is our responsibility to teach all men how to live stable and prosperous lives, starting with teaching young boys how to treat girls respectfully,” he said.
Zikalala said society should dispel the myth that men don’t cry because they create depressed and enraged men. He also encouraged men to take the lead in their health and not rely on women to go to the clinic for them or for their partners to be guinea pigs for sexually transmitted diseases.
“Men should test for cancers and HIV regularly, drink responsibly and also exercise often to take charge of their health.”
He said men should be critical role-players in advocating gender equality and called on men to take a stand and fight patriarchal values that lead to violence.
“We should practise our traditions responsibly. If a man decides to practise polygamy, it should be done in agreement with his wife and not as a form of abuse,” he said.
During the march, Zikalala was joined by members of the Executive Council, KZN Provincial House of Traditional and Koi-San leaders and the KZN Provincial Men’s Forum.
Simelane said: “We need each other and we can only conquer GBV if we work together. Men need to mentor each other in order to unpack what it truly means to be a man.”
She said during this month, the KZN Department of Health would initiate men’s health programmes in all its clinics to encourage men to seek medical advice and treatment.
Bishop Bhekimpi Mchunu of the Men’s Sector in eThekwini said men had a lot to say and had solutions for many issues in the province but lacked the forums to voice their solutions.
“We joined the march because we wanted it to be an opportunity for men to hear from other men. Our wish is to live in a society that is peaceful, caring, and that has love.”