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 the government, civil society organisations 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 on the impact of gender-based violence and femicide on women and children. The theme is: “Accelerating Actions to End Gender-based Violence and Femicide: Leaving no one behind”.
In line with the theme, it is important that we create enabling conditions for community education and mobilisation, and in doing so, “leaving no 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 cognisant of the need to strengthen the capacity of community leaders to drive meaningful and lasting change in society.
At the core of the important task should be a commitment from all sectors of society to empower a cohort of community leaders in order to mobilise community participation in all efforts that seek to promote gender justice and prevent of 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 on gender justice and the prevention of gender-based violence. Youth make up a considerable proportion of the population but are excluded from policy-making and the legislative processes that significantly impact their lives and futures.
Given the challenges in addressing gender-based violence and gender inequality, 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 communities, including the challenge of gender-based violence and femicide.
In view of this, youth network ACTIVATE! Change Drivers plans to convene the Generation G National Imbizo under the theme: “Strengthening Community Leadership to Combat Gender-based Violence and Femicide”. The imbizo is at Constitution Hill, Women’s Jail, on November 24.
It is organised by the Generation (G)ender global partnership which sets out to equip youth leaders and civil society organisations 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 organisations from across Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape to critically reflect on the pressing challenge of gender-based violence and explore community leadership as 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 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. The champions and social activists work with various community and other stakeholders to mobilise public support towards the promotion of gender justice and prevention of gender-based violence. They do this by co-ordinating public dialogues, workshops and campaigns 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 realising violence-free and gender-just societies. We must not ignore the efforts of gender champions and we, as a society, must elevate and encourage the voices of young people who serve as catalysts for change toward the redress of GBVF.
Rammolotsi Sothoane is a gender activist and special projects manager at ACTIVATE! Change Drivers.