By Rammolotsi Sothoane
Gender based violence is a widespread and profound social concern in South Africa. According to research, up to 40% of South African women have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse in their lifetime. Reports further show that 50% of children in South Africa will experience violent abuse in various forms in their lifetime. Despite being a fundamental violation of human rights gender based violence is often deeply rooted in socially accepted gender inequality and discrimination and is therefore condoned.
On the 13th November 2017, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers and Africa Unite collaborated to host the SDG 4.7 Interconnectedness, Gender and Human Rights: Youth Training Workshop in Durban, South Africa. The workshop was made possible by the generous support of the YESPeace Network; a collaborative effort led by the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development aimed at transforming education to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially Target 4.7.
Outlining the purpose of the workshop, Brilliant Nyambi of Africa Unite emphasised that gender based violence is fundamentally a human rights violation. “Human rights are essential to achieving sustainable development and as such it is important to create enabling platforms for communities to learn about Sustainable Development Goals, especially insofar as they relate to the pursuit of human rights.” Brilliant maintained. Key among the objectives of the workshop was the promotion of quality education on gender and human rights in an effort to create peaceful, interconnected and sustainable communities in and around Durban South Africa.
50 youth leaders from various organisations including ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, Africa Unite, Anova Health Institute, Community Care Givers, Ubuhle Bentsha Development Centre, Amaoti Youth Changers, Health 4 Men, Safer Cities, Lindelani Youth Forum, Deprived Youth Service and Nalibali participated in the workshop.
The workshop unanimously stressed that gender is deeply intertwined with other socio-economic and political issues; solutions aimed at addressing socio-economic justice and political peace are incomplete without the inclusion of gender justice. The SDG 4.7 Interconnectedness, Gender and Human Rights Workshop essentially sought to create an enabling environment for youth leaders involved with gender justice and peace building initiatives across Durban to engage with the critical question of how communities can contribute towards promoting gender justice, peace and sustainable development.
Sanele Hadebe, representing ACTIVATE! Change Drivers in the KwaZulu Natal Node expressed his appreciation to the organisers of the workshop for having created a platform for community and youth leaders to gather knowledge and skills to be able to contribute meaningfully towards building peaceful and interconnected communities.
In August 2017 the State of Urban Safety released its second report focused on the state of crime and violence in South Africa’s nine urban settings and in it identified Durban as one of the most violent cities in South Africa. The most vulnerable in society, including women, children and the LGBTQIA+ community bare the most brunt of this violence.
“Young people must be empowered to make a positive contribution towards creating peaceful communities across the country. Participating in this workshop presented youth with a platform to be equipped with critical skills necessary to play a role in advancing human rights and peace in their respective communities” said participant Mankhosi Mcube.
The workshop ended on a participatory with participants expressing an interest in collaborating with the YESPeace Network to create similar opportunities for learning on how to promote peace, interconnectedness and sustainable development in their respective communities. Organisers of the workshop and affiliates of the YESPeace Network; ACTIVATE! Change Drivers and Africa Unite committed themselves to coordinating more of these workshops across South Africa and the greater Southern African region in the year 2018.