16 Days of Activism: Let us heed the call to support and fight for women and children
FLAGS flew at half-mast and many wore black as a sign of mourning as South Africa launched this year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children and remembered victims of Covid-19.
Gender-based violence (GBV) has been described as South Africa’s second epidemic after Covid-19, so activities at this time are a reminder not only of the scourge of GBV in our society, but of the added socio-economic hardships brought by the pandemic on women in particular.
While there is debate on the merits of a 16 Day campaign when GBV remains an ongoing issue, the concentrated period does provide a necessary focus on the call to action - including on men and boys as partners in fighting abuse of women and girls, and of the need for societal change in terms of norms and behaviour.
GBV is never far from the headlines, with the latest tragedy being the brutal murder of a mother and her five children in the Eastern Cape, allegedly at the hands of her partner.
At the official launch of the 16 Day campaign, deputy president David Mabza said the response to GBV and femicide must be “emphatic and uncompromising” and urged government, civil society formations, and all other social partners to work together towards a sustained programme of action.
The campaign also forms part of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to action to eradicate GBV in the next five years is a standing agenda item on many government meetings.
“The fight to end gender-based violence is both simple and highly complex." said Ramaphosa. "It is simple because violence against women and children can be brought to an immediate end if every man in our country makes a conscious decision never again to harm a woman or a child and lives by that decision."
The theme for this year is “Women’s economic justice for a non-violent and non-sexist South Africa”.
In this time, let us heed the call to support women's economic empowerment and mobilise in the fight against GBV and the murder of women and children.