16 Days of Activism Strengthening Community Leadership to Combat GBVF – by Rammolotsi Sothoane

We must strengthen community leadership to combat GBVF.

South Africa has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) worldwide. It is estimated that a woman is killed in South Africa every four hours, and at least half of them are murdered by an intimate partner. The rate at which women are killed by intimate partners is also five times higher than the global average. The unacceptably high levels of gender-based violence and femicide in South Africa, demand all sectors of society including government, civil society organizations and communities in general to find lasting solutions to the scourge of GBV. This year South Africa commemorates the 25th anniversary of the “16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children” campaign. The campaign represents an effort to raise awareness of the impact of gender-based violence and femicide on women and children. The theme for the 16 Days of Activism Campaign for 2023 is: “Accelerating actions to end gender-based violence & femicide: leaving no one behind”.

In line with this year’s theme, it is important that we create enabling conditions for community education and mobilization, and in doing so  “leaving one behind” in all efforts aimed at promoting gender justice and preventing gender-based violence.

Community participation is an integral aspect of integrating and sustaining GBVF prevention in communities. In order to promote community participation in GBVF prevention interventions, we must be cognizant of the need to strengthen the capacity of community leaders to drive meaningful and lasting change in society. At the core of this important task should be a commitment from all sectors of society to empower a cohort of community leaders in order to mobilize community participation in all efforts that seek to promote gender justice and prevent gender-based violence.

According to a study conducted in 2021 (Uhai African Solutions, 2021), young people in South Africa, particularly those below the age of 30, do not feel included in law-making and decision-making processes around gender justice and the prevention of gender-based violence. Youth make up a considerable proportion of the country’s population but are excluded from policymaking and the legislative processes that significantly impact their lives and futures.

Given the current challenges in addressing gender-based violence and gender inequality in South Africa, young people’s general exclusion in the social, political, and economic life of the country means that they are generally not intently and meaningfully engaged in finding lasting solutions to issues facing their own communities, including the challenge of gender-based violence and femicide.

In view of the afore-mentioned, youth network ACTIVATE! Change Drivers plans to convene the Generation G National Imbizo with the theme: “Strengthening community leadership to combat gender-based violence and femicide”. The Imbizo is taking place on the 24th of November 2023 and will be held at Constitution Hill, Women’s Jail

The Imbizo is organized by the Generation (G)ender global partnership which sets out to equip youth leaders and civil society organizations to address the root causes of gender inequality, gender injustice and gender-based violence.

The national Imbizo will bring together a broad spectrum of activists, thought leaders and civil society organizations from across Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape to critically reflect on the pressing challenge of gender-based violence in South Africa and to explore community leadership a possible response.

The Generation G programme strives towards the creation of gender-just and violence-free societies with and for young people in their full diversity. Through the Generation G programme, we want to see young people, empowered to take action against gender-based violence and femicide. The programme sets out to make a special effort to amplify the voices of youth, particularly those who are often excluded because of their age, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or socio-economic status.

Young activists called Generation G Champions have been at the forefront of advancing the aims of the Generation G programme within communities across South Africa. These champions and social activists work with various communities and other stakeholders to mobilize public support towards the promotion of gender justice and the prevention of gender-based violence. They do this by coordinating public dialogues, workshops and campaigns pointedly focused on highlighting the important role communities can play in addressing GBVF.

Strengthening community leadership through empowering Generation G champions and other young people is crucial in realizing violence-free and gender just societies. We must not ignore the efforts of gender champions and we must as a society elevate and encourage the voices of young people who serve as catalysts for change toward the redress of GBVF.

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About the author:

Rammolotsi Sothoane is a gender activist and Special Projects Manager at ACTIVATE! Change Drivers.

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