Deputy President David Mabuza says the nation's soul can only renew itself if a better commitment is made to put an end to gender-based violence.
Mabuza was speaking on Wednesday morning at the official commemoration ceremony for the 16 days of activism campaign against gender-based violence and femicide.
The South African flag was flown at half-mast outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
President Cyril Ramaphosa had said that from November 25 to November 29 the country would be in mourning and on each day the flag would be flown at half-mast. The president said this was to mourn the loss of GBV victims and also the thousands of people who had lost their lives to Covid-19.
This year's theme is; women’s economic justice for a non-violent and non-sexist South Africa.
Mabuza said this year's campaign should lead to action.
"As we mourn, we are reminded of our collective obligation to make a difference in every way we can in our various leadership roles in society. Our response to Gender-Based Violence and Femicide must be emphatic and uncompromising. It is a commitment of government, civil society formations and all other social partners to work together towards a sustained programme of action to curb gender-based violence and femicide," he said.
"16 days of activism should be about tangible progress and an end of violence against women and children. It should not be a simple and annual ritual in our calendar events. In a democratic country, patriarchy cannot be used as a cultural basis for the oppression of women."
Mabuza called upon society to do more in calling out acts of violence.
"Women can no longer live with men who have disregard for their lives and freedom. We call on all our communities to condemn any acts of gender-based violence and where such acts manifest themselves they should be reported to the nearest police station.
"We should be dedicating resources to helping women, rally behind national efforts to empower, protect and promote the empowerment and advancement of women and girl children," Mabuza said.
Ramaphosa is expected to host an interactive session with civil society organisations later on Wednesday evening.