Cape Town - The epidemic of violence against women and girls that sees one of every four women in an abusive relationship and a murder of a woman every six days, has to stop and it’s time to break the silence.
This was the message from Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp, to the capacity crowd at the 1000 Women Trust Initiative flagship event on Thursday at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Photographer Karin Schermbrucker, who delivered the keynote address, said a centrepiece of the life of women who have to endure so much is courage.
Schermbrucker, who works with UNICEF and UN Women, encouraged women to press on courageously in South Africa. “I will not be intimidated, discouraged or dissuaded from standing up for the rights of those who suffer injustice. I will not fear, in fact, we have an even greater resolve to speak up for those who cannot do so,” she said.
“My standing up here today is testimony to many of the courageous woman in my life- who have helped me find my voice and have always called me to more – women who have fought for justice and believed that we can and should help change the lives of women all over the world,” Schermbrucker added.
"As one of the bravest women of our time, Wangari Maathai said: 'We cannot tire or give up, we owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk'," Schermbrucker said.
She quoted the famous photographer Annie Griffiths of the National Geographic, who said: “When faced with the sheer magnitude of global need, most of us feel completely overwhelmed. How can we possibly make a difference? But when each of us can search inside ourselves for a little acorn of time or passion or ability, and find creative ways to offer that gift, then a forest begins to grow.”
Master of Ceremonies Bredenkamp said: “For 14 years we (at 1000 Women Trust) have fought a battle to bring an end to what can only be called an epidemic. Today is a celebration of courage, faith and most of all hope. You are here today because your company or a sponsor wants to make sure the 1000 women 1 Voice Fund can continue to bring hope and create change."
She celebrated the force of social media to foster social change through the use of the hashtag #EnoughisEnough.
Candles were lit to commemorate women who lost their lives to rape or though gender violence.
During a three-minute video clip played during the lunch, the rape culture and disrespect for life in South Africa was highlighted as a major problem which causes the horrendous abuse and killing of women.
Guests were invited to bring toiletries, soft toys and tin food for the shelters. This year, the shelters are the beneficiaries and the 1000 Women Unite Trust is working with a number of new shelters.
During the past 12 months, the women-led 1000 Women Trust invested a staggering R1 million in community-based and women-led organisations that provide support to woman and girls to find solutions around gender-based violence, rape and abuse.
Heading the 1000 Women Trust is community activist, Caroline Peters. Peters was gang-raped and brutally stabbed at the age of 16.
Now, she is on the forefront of backing women's safety shelters to assist those who are survivors of abuse and rape.
"I am passionate about working in an environment that supports the protection of human rights and mitigates the impact of social issues that affect the lives of individuals who have been marginalised," she said.
1. Tears helpline: *134*7355#
2. GBV national hotline: Dial *120*7867# (free) from any cell phone and a social worker will call back. We are available Monday to Sunday, 24 hours a day.
GVB Hotline: 080 042 8428
3. Stop gender violence: - 0800 150 150
4. Human Trafficking hotline 0800222777.