Cape Town - South Africa's crisis of gender-based violence needs more than slogans and summits to fix, and the impact of government’s interventions cannot be fully effective without data and performance monitoring.
This is according to Dr Nthabiseng Moleko, Development Economist at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, who has contributed to the 2019 South African Board for People Practices (SABPP) Women’s Report, themed Women and Politics, launched on Thursday.
The latest statistics show gender-based violence (GBV) has reached crisis proportions in South Africa, with three women reportedly dying at the hands of their partners every day.
While the budget speech delivered last month mentioned a national strategic plan to “stop the carnage” by September and welcomed the move to activate “budget support and planning for interventions” addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and femicide, there is a risk of failure unless mechanisms to track the true extent of the problem and the effectiveness of the strategies are in place, said Dr Moleko.
“It is not clear how an effective strategy will be developed in the absence of indices and data to contribute to a national monitoring framework with performance indicators to monitor trends, incidence of GBV and measure the impact of interventions,” she said.
Dr Moleko, a Commissioner of the Commission for Gender Equality, said institutions and resources already existing should be better deployed, coordinated and monitored, rather than creating new and overlapping institutions.
Pointing to the failure to implement resolutions of previous gender summits, she warned against “the creation of a web of institutional mechanisms, which, if not properly established, will only lead to duplication and overlapping of roles, and ineffective use of resources, culminating in a repetition of the same mistakes”.
Dr Moleko’s article “Do we have the tracking tools to monitor the National Gender Machinery” examines the current and previous efforts to curb gender-based violence, and makes recommendations to government for mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the planned interventions.
She said gender-based violence “affects the very fabric of our society”.
“It is of utmost importance that we establish both policy and institutional responses to measure and effectively reduce the incidence of GBV. It is not simply a phenomenon that occurs at home, it leaves traces across society and costs the nation dearly through a loss of productivity, a rise in absenteeism, and social grant dependence.
“Further reliance on the state for health care support, policing and judicial resources, social protection, and insurance places greater demands on already limited state resources. The loss suffered by individual women and children is immeasurable, and not something anyone should be forced to suffer in a civilised society,” Dr Moleko explained.
She said that violence against women and children had heightened over the past decade, with South Africa’s femicide rate now five times higher than the global average, and more than one in five women experiencing physical violence, worsening to one in three in low-income areas.
The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) had found that South Africa had the world’s highest rate of rape, estimated at 138 rapes per 100 000 women in 2017, according to Dr Moleko.
“The statistics point towards a government and society crippled by an inability to protect women and, especially concerning, children. We clearly need to develop more than just reactive slogans and media responses to the incidence of such systemic violations and tragedies. The emphasis should rather be on monitoring the effectiveness and impact of interventions,” she said.