Sonke Gender justice is calling on the government to fast track the implementation of the Gender-based Violence and Femicide National Strategic Plan

Sonke Gender justice is calling on the government to fast track the implementation of the Gender-based Violence and Femicide National Strategic Plan

This year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign is like no other. This year this campaign comes at a period when the country is marred by several pandemics.

The vicious COVID 19, the pandemic of poverty affecting a sizeable number of people and what Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the undersecretary of the UN and Executive Director of UNWOMEN, calls the pandemic of GBV and femicides.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. This year’s theme is: “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”

Every year, the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign either introduces a new theme or continues an old theme that focuses on one particular area of gender inequality.

The campaign 16 Days of Activism campaign has been running for over 25 years in South Africa, yet femicide rates remain disturbingly high in our country.

Earlier this month, President Cyril Ramaphosa called for a national period of mourning to commemorate the lives lost to GBV and COVID-19 for this year’s 16 Days of Activism campaign. We support this call by the President as it is appropriate in this moment to acknowledge the enormous contribution made by frontline workers in the battle against COVID-19.

We have lost many lives in this quest to end the challenge posed by COVID-19. As we mourn these valiant warriors it behoves all of us to act responsibly and adhere to the guidelines set by the Department of Health following the guide from the WHO. In respect to these warriors we need to act responsible and avoid spreading this dangerous virus.

It is also appropriate that we take time in these allotted 5 days of mourning to self-reflect. It is more important for men in our country to introspect and take a decision to be counted among those in our country who work tirelessly to make sure that no more lives of women and children are lost to the scourge of GBVF.

We need to take this time to mourn the lives we have lost due to toxic masculine behaviour. Many of these victims are unknown because their deaths did not reach the national media. Despite this, we need to acknowledge these deaths and mourn appropriately.

As a country we have embarked on a positive trajectory that seeks to steer us away from this negative sentiment and set us on a course free of GBV.

The current NSP – GBV and Femicides is a useful policy intervention, far reaching and potentially potent to help turn the tide against GBV and Femicides.

While Sonke welcomes the President’s commitment to ending the scourge of gender-based violence, we are also deeply concerned by the fact that there are no foolproof systems in place to ensure that the commitments made by duty bearers on ending gender-based violence are routinely monitored and evaluated.

We need bold leadership that will help guide the country through these treacherous mazes of women abuse.

There is a general positive sentiment by the forthright leadership of the President on this matter. His consistent public pronouncements on this matter give a sense of hope for a change in the current trajectory. The signing of the GBV & Femicide NSP is a big step in the right direction setting our country on firm path on the response. What is required now is urgent implementation of the policy by all the relevant stakeholders.

Sonke is calling on the government to act with urgency and fast track the implementation of a fully costed, multi-sectoral and coordinated National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence (NSP on GBV). This step should not be delayed to ensure that the country responds adequately and expeditiously.

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