Imagine if, for 16 days, there was no rape, no child abuse. The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign challenges South Africans to declare a truce on violence against women and children – and, ultimately, to make it a permanent one.South Africa joins the global 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign in 1998. (Image: South African Government, Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)Brand South Africa reporterImagine if, for 16 days, there was no rape, no child abuse. The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign challenges South Africans to declare a truce on violence against women and children – and, ultimately, to make it a permanent one.For the 16th year, South Africa is taking part in the global 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, which runs from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) through to International Human Rights Day on 10 December.With the theme “Count me in: Together moving a non-violent South Africa forward”, the campaign will be officially launched by President Jacob Zuma in Reiger Park, Ekurhuleni, on 25 November.While the campaign runs only for 16 days each year, its objectives are reinforced by a year-long programme and a national plan to combat abuse.South Africa is still home to high levels of violence against its women and children, despite a world-renowned Constitution and a legislative overhaul that safeguards women’s and children’s rights.The government, business, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations and the media are all participating in the drive to increase awareness of the negative impact of violence and abuse on women and children.The campaign also aims to:Challenge the perpetrators of violence to change their behaviour.Involve men in helping to eradicate violence.Provide survivors with information on services and organisations that can help lessen the impact of violence on their lives.While the campaign runs only for 16 days each year, its objectives are reinforced by a year-long programme and a national plan to combat abuse.What you can doSouth Africans are urged to support the campaign by wearing a white ribbon – a symbol of peace – during the 16-day period to symbolise their commitment to never commit or condone violence against women or children.Other ways of supporting the campaign:Speak out against woman and child abuse. Encourage silent female victims to challenge abuse, and ensure that they get help. Report child abuse to the police immediately. Encourage children to report bullying behaviour to school authorities.Men are critical partners in the fight against the abuse of women and children. Men and boys are encouraged to talk about abuse and actively discourage abusive behaviour.Families must stick together to create a safe environment for women and children.Parents and adults can make sure that children are not exposed to inappropriate sexual and violent material.Volunteer some of your time and energy in support of a non- governmental organisation or community group working in your area to help abused women and children. Use your life skills and knowledge to help support victims of abuse.Donate some money to organisations working to end violence against women and children by making a contribution to the Foundation for Human Rights. Tel: 011 339 5560/1/2/3/4/5.Engage in online dialogues such as the Cyber Dialogues organised by Gender Links which provides a platform to share issues and experiences and offer solutions, with experts participating in the online chats. Gender Links also offers way for you to support recent survivors or gender-based violence. See the online pledge form.Get connected with important contacts and information published on www.womensnet.org.za.Seek help if you are emotionally, physically or sexually abusive to your partner and/or children. Call the Stop Gender Based Violence helpline on 0800 150 150.Report illegal guns to the police – according to the International Action Network on Small Arms Women’s Network, women are three times more likely to die violently if there is a gun in the home.Join a community policing forum (CPF) or community safety forum (CSF) to help fight crime in your area. For information on how to join, contact your local police station.Rhetoric and realitySouth Africa, according to non-governmental organisation Gender Links, needs to close the gap between the “rhetoric of gender equality” and the “reality on the ground”.Gender Links says the country has made impressive strides in recognising the roles and rights of women and children.The Constitution recognises gender equality as the cornerstone of South Africa’s democracy, and new legislation – such as the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act and the Domestic Violence Act – have been lauded for enforcing the rights of women.But more needs to be done. “Changing laws can be swift,” says Gender Links. “Giving them effect, and changing the mindsets that often render them ineffective, is a much more demanding task.” Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.,Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.,Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.
This month, South Africa commemorates two decades of democratic freedom in the country and reflects on the journey taken to create a more equitable society for all citizens, says Phumla Williams, CEO of Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).“With the majority of women having suffered three-fold in the apartheid era – for being women, for being black and for being economically marginalised, a key determinant of our progress in building a better society will be to look at how far we have come in closing the gender gap, and on whether today’s society is better for both men and women as a result of our strong human rights culture and our constitutional framework.At a recent Play Your Part/Sowetan Dialogue discussion on our freedom, Advocate Pansy Tlakula, Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, posed the question to assembled delegates: “Does legislation and policies really translate into a better life for those concerned?”When addressing this question in relation to the rights of women in South African society, she reflected on a case she had dealt with back in the late 1990s which demonstrated how, at times over the past two decades, the application of universal human rights would sometimes be at odds with traditional practices that have been practised for years in the country, and reflected on the impact of this on the people involved.She said: “In the early days of democracy I was confronted with a case of a minor who was married off by her family when she was 14 years old. We managed to remove the minor from the family and placed her in a place of safety. We subsequently arrested the person to whom she would have been married as well as the father of the girl and successfully prosecuted them. I was happy that we successfully protected a minor but when she turned 18 years old and could leave the place of safety where she had lived, she had no place to go as she was ostracised from her village for the dishonour she had brought to her family and village.”This case brought into sharp focus the multi-dimensionality of the implementation of human rights which must be balanced with cultural and family values and norms.However, in the years since that time, South Africa has made a great number of positive strides in narrowing the gender gap and creating a more equitable society for women in the country.In the most recent Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum in October last year, South Africa had risen to 2nd place in the African country rankings for the continent’s most equal society in terms of gender parity and 17th place overall in the world rankings out of 135 countries.The Report’s Global Gender Gap Index, which has been published since 2006, is a framework for capturing the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities in a country and tracking their progress over the years. The report attributed the narrowing of the gender gap in South Africa to the government’s strong commitment to end discrimination against women since the birth of democracy back in 1994.The report also identified South Africa to be the best performing BRICS member country and second best performing individual G20 country in closing the gender gap in the areas of health, education, politics and economic equality.MAJOR LEAP TOWARD EQUALITYIn March this year, the journey towards achieving greater gender equity in South Africa took another major leap forward with the passing of a government bill aimed at empowering women and promoting gender equality. The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill was passed on 5 March in the National Assembly, a move welcomed by the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities.The Bill calls for the progressive realisation of at least 50% representation of women in decision-making structures. It also aims at improving access to education, training and skills development. The Bill also seeks to promote and protect women’s reproductive health, and eliminate discrimination and harmful practices, including gender-based violence.The Minister for Women, Lulu Xingwana, welcomed the decision to adopt the Bill, saying: “The women of South Africa have said to us that they cannot wait any longer to share in the fruits of our democracy”. However, she also pointed out that while significant strides had been made to empower women and promote gender equality, a disproportionate burden of the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment was still borne by women.The fact is that since the birth of democracy 20 years ago, great strides have indeed been made on the journey towards achieving greater gender equality in South Africa. More girl children than in 1994 are today gaining access to education, passing primary and secondary education, and obtaining degrees at universities. More women are taking their place in government and key decision-making roles in the corporate environment. A social security net which benefits in excess of 16 million people, 13 million of which are children, has been created.However, whilst significant challenges still remain, particularly the scourge of violence against women and children and the impact of poverty on women, the introduction of greater legislation that protects the rights of women and oversees the integration of gender equity principles into government and the private sector can only be a good thing.The passing of the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill provides the necessary legislative tools to help drive greater gender equality in the country and promote opportunities for women to enjoy equal representation in decision-making positions across government and the corporate sector.The Bill also aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls, including those with disabilities, and seeks to address any practices that violate women’s rights to social, political, economic and cultural freedoms. The Bill also provides for the monitoring of legislation to address discrimination and violence against women, as well as access to services and economic emancipation.According to the WEF’s Global Gender Gap Index, there is a strong correlation between a country’s gender gap and its national competitiveness. Because women typically account for one-half of a country’s potential talent base, a nation’s competitiveness in the long term depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilizes its women in society.We must bear in mind here in South Africa looks to maximize its position as a proactive member of the BRICS grouping of nations in the global marketplace. Ultimately, whilst South Africa has come a long way in the past 20 years in closing the gender gap, much work remains to be done if women are to fulfill their potential and make the necessary contribution to the country’s future development and position in the world. Every citizen, male and female, has a responsibility in helping to make this happen – it is in South Africa’s, and indeed every woman’s, best interests.”First published in The Star
An amalgamation of some of the well-known singers from Asia and outside, along with depiction of the rich and varied culture of co-hosts India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will be the highlights of the grand opening World Cup ceremony here on Thursday.Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, who have composed the official song for the World Cup, and Sonu Nigam will represent India while Runa Laila of the Dama dam mast kalandar fame and Mila, a local pop icon, will be the prominent Bangladeshis on display. Legendary Canadian singer Bryan Adams will add variety to what promises to be a spectacular show.The fireworks and laser show will be yet another attraction, but the competing teams will be conspicuous by their absence at the 10th edition of the tournament and the third in south Asia.Also, the culture of Pakistan, which was scratched as a co-host by the International Cricket Council (ICC) due to security reasons following the attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore in March 2008, will not be seen at the over two-hour ceremony at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.Bangladesh Cricket Board CEO Manzur Ahmed also said that Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina will declare open the 45-day, 14-nation tournament, though the presence of Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman is doubtful.”The full teams will not be there at the opening. Only the captains and the managers will be present. That is how (Indian company) Wizcraft has designed the ceremony,” Ahmed told MAIL TODAY.One major reason for the teams’ absence could have been a big logistical problem in transporting teams from various parts of the three south Asian countries. But when India and Pakistan cohosted the World Cup in 1987, all competing teams lined up at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.In fact, at almost all World Cups, the teams have got together before the first match. Wizcraft, in association with Bangladesh’s Asiatic Events, an advertisement firm, has designed the ceremony, but they are keeping the contents close to their chests. But sources said that Nigam, Laila and Mila will sing along with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.Ahmed gave a peep into what would be an evening of razzmatazz. “In the three segments, we will highlight the cultural heritage of the three cohosts.And apart from that, there will be the other formalities associated with this kind of event, like speeches, some songs, fireworks, and a lot of digital display – it’s a kind of laser show. It will all be high-tech. Bryan Adams is also going to sing,” Ahmed said.”There are special preparations they (Wizcraft) have been doing for one month and they have been rehearsing it here for the last one week. In the Bangabandhu Stadium, they have been doing the infrastructure and other preparations at another venue. Some of the rehearsals are being done at the army stadiums for the last one month,” said the former wicketkeeper- batsman who represented Bangladesh in the 1980s.”We will have a little more time for Bangladesh segment – 20 minutes, plus or minus – but the others segments will get about 15 minutes, plus or minus,” he said.advertisement
The process of return of the bill by the Rajya Sabha sawThe process of return of the bill by the Rajya Sabha saw an animated debate over why it was brought as a money bill. A number of opposition members also raised concern over privacy and national security on the biometric data of Indians so collected through the scheme. Brushing aside the objections by the Opposition, Jaitley said the Aadhaar Bill was a money bill as it dealt with the way public money or subsidy will be distributed among the needy under various government schemes. Jaitley said he cannot delete Section 57 of Aadhaar law restricting the use of the data for purposes of granting benefit by state governments. This was one of the five amendments passed by Rajya Sabha, but rejected by Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha had returned the bill to Lok Sabha after approving five amendments moved by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh. In the Upper House, the Finance Minister said security of state over the years have come to be defined as a well defined concept. Observing that the phrase national security has been borrowed from the 2010 law, Jaitley said: “(it) has evolved and is defined. It is something to do with integrity of the India, sovereignty of India. (But) there is no concept of public emergency. You are permitting by your amendment, a much larger encroachment of privacy that the law permits. He said while national security is limited, public safety and public emergency are not constitutional phrase. “They are undefined and unustified…Public safety is a vaguer phrase,” he said, adding, “national security over the years is a narrower phrase. It interest involves interest of the security of the state, integrity of India”. The Finance Minister said that the “encroachment” of personal liberty or privacy has been narrowed down and “we have taken care of larger no of privacy concern…”. Members of BSP, TMC and BJD in Rajya Sabha also walked out of the House raising objections on several issues concerning the measure. PTI DP NKD LUX CS ZMNadvertisement