Cape Town - Women have nothing to celebrate this Women's Month when we are dying at the rate that we are, says Onica Makwakwa, national liaison for #TheTotalShutdown: Intersectional Women’s March Against GBV.

This is why the organisers of #TheTotalShutdown are calling on women from all sectors to join together to shut down the country on August 1 - the start of Women's Month - in protest against gender-based violence.

The campaign was started by a group of "ordinary women who just felt that they just seen one too many posts of missing women and know exactly how that story will end, with them either being dead and usually their partner being responsible for their death," says Makwakwa. "And so (we) decided to organise to basically say that we need to be serious about bringing an end to gender-based-violence in this country." 

The group have been mobilising women on social media for months in preparation for the marches. 

Marches are set to take place simultaneously in every major city across South Africa:


Women in Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland and Namibia will march in solidarity.

Marchers are encouraged to wear black with a touch of red.

"Women who are not able to march, we are asking that they stay away from work on that day, a total stay away. For those who absolutely must be at work, we are calling for a moment of solidarity from 1-1.30pm."

In addition, refrain from all economic activities - do not buy anything on that day unless absolutely necessary.

They will be delivering 24 demands to the government, including that President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Presidency not appoint people to government offices who are known perpetrators.

While the #TheTotalShutdown protest is intersectional and all LGBTQIA+, differently-abled persons and races are invited to participate, the Facebook and Whatsapp groups are for women only.

For weeks now women have been sharing their personal stories and why they are participating in the march in the closed Facebook group and, says Makwakwa, the stories and the women behind them prove that gender violence knows no race, economic class or religion.

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