Economic Empowerment is an important part of ending violence against women #16DaysofActivism

By Kay-Dee Mashile
Originally published by Group 500 Investments

The 25th of November is the International Day for Ending Violence against Women and Girls. In South Africa and many parts of the world, this also marks the beginning of the 16 Day of Activism against Violence against Women and Children. In the past few years, South Africa has seen a spike in violent crimes against women, which saw the country named the rape capital of the world. This is devastating! For this reason, many organisations have been built and put in place to fight against violence against women both directly and indirectly. The conversation of protecting and promoting the safety of women has and continues to grow. However, we have yet a long way to go. As Group 500 Investments (G500), we believe that the economic empowerment of women is an important part of the fight to end violence against women.

On the 25th of November 2020, the G500 co-founders joined a panel discussion hosted by Taugadi media and ACTIVATE! Change Drivers on collaborating towards working together with various NGOs and movements for this cause. On this conversation, Mr Mbete made a valuable contribution that gender roles and societal norms very seldom place responsibility on men for the solving of problems in the home, even those that are caused by them. This spills over to the gender-based violence (GBV) issue where victims have the burden of proof as well as the burden of preventing and ending the violence that they are subjected to. Evidently, many GBV related movements are led by women, for women. While this is not entirely wrong, it is important that the conversation begins to diversify and have men involved as, in Mr Mbete’s words, men listen to other men. Men thus need to start speaking out more.

One of the other panellists, Lesego Scott from the ACTIVATE! Change Driver’s network, also noted that this requires that men be taught the importance of unlearning, especially those who are being raised in the current generation. The boy child, Mrs Dlamini asserts, needs to be taught from young. However, this teaching, Lesego notes, has to go hand in hand with unlearning because as they are taught at home, society shows them otherwise. Therefore, the responsibility Mr Mbete speaks of has to be reinforced overtime and only spoken about once off.

While we are intentionally pursuing a world where women are not preyed on and violated at the hand of any other human being, it is important that we also be intentional about empowering women in the current climate. Mrs Dlamini noted during the same discussion that many women stay in abusive relationships because of financial dependence on the perpetrators of the violence they are subjected to. This emphasises the need for women to be financially empowered. And because there are very few job opportunities in the world today, this necessitates activities that empower women in various business and income generation initiatives so that they can stand on their own feet and not be subjected to life threatening situations because they’re not able to make a living of their own.

This by no means assumes that women only stay in abusive situations for this reason as there are various contributing factors to GBV and why victims stay. Some of these are the isolating nature of abuse, mental health struggles, fear and many other varying factors. The diversity of GBV cases necessitates that all of society should come together to address the social ills and many other variables that contribute to the growing GBV cases in South Africa and the world. It isn’t any one person’s responsibility, Lesego notes, it is all of our responsibility. Wherever we find ourselves in society, we have a role to play towards ending violence against women.

As the 2020 16 Days of Activism unfold, please help us to empower 20 female entrepreneurs and employ 100 Cape Town locals to remove alien plants and replace them with 1 000 000 heads of cabbages by donating R50 towards the 1 Million Cabbages Campaign. For more information, contact Kay-Dee at 0723423689. In Mrs Dlamini’s words, we are at a point where we can no longer depend on governments and systems alone to solve the social ills that affect us. We have to stand up and do it for ourselves while we educate and empower society to support us.

Vuk’uzenzele muntu wesifazane, your future depends on it. 

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