Public urged to support campaign against gender violence

The international Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence kicks off tomorrow.

The 16 Days of Activism logo. Picture:

JOHANNESBURG - Various groups and organisations have urged South Africans to come on board and play an active role in the fight against violence on women and children over the next 16 days.

The international Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence kicks off tomorrow.

To empower women, Johannesburg based NGO Gender Links has called on the public to make a donation of any amount toward its Sunrise Campaign, a year-long training programme for women that aims to reduce violence, increase income, agency and relationship control as well as uplift whole families.

Piloted in ten Southern African countries over the last three years, it aims to raise $100,000 over the next six weeks to extend the programme to another 1,000 women in 2017.

The Social Justice Initiative has also backed the initiative and will match donations made by South Africans.

Gender Links chairperson Emily Brown said: “Our message is simple. There is something each one of us can do to break the cycle of violence. If we all donate just a fraction of what we spend during the festive season to changing the lives of women and girls, we can create a safer, happier, more just and better future for all.”

During this period GL is running SADC Protocol@Work summits run by 200 of the 1350 survivors of gender violence across eight Southern African countries under the banner 50/50 by 2030: Empower women, end violence.

The women have reclaimed their lives through entrepreneurship.

Explaining the concept further, Gender Links founder and CEO Colleen Lowe Morna says: “For many years we had gathered 'I' Stories or first-hand accounts of survivors of GBV. Invariably women told us that they go back into abusive relationships because they have no choice.

"We asked ourselves what is the exact opposite of abuse which destroys that essential sense of agency, of self- worth. And we decided on entrepreneurship, because it involves believing in yourself, taking risks, and of course being able to negotiate.”

According to the organisation’s research, one in four to four in five women have experienced some form of violence over their lifetime; with the highest form of violence being emotional abuse, which is the least likely to be reported to the police.

In solidarity, Brand South Africa called on South Africans and businesses to support its “No Excuses” campaign over the next 16 days by wearing a white ribbon to symbolise their pledge to not commit or condone violence against women or children.

Brand SA’s GM for Marketing, Ms Sithembile Ntomebla said: “It is the responsibility of government, business, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, communities and the media to drive to increase awareness of the negative impact of violence and abuse on women and children, and speak out against woman and child abuse,” added Ms Ntombela.

They have also challenged perpetrators of violence to change their behaviour, encouraged the involvement of men in helping to eradicate violence, as well as provide survivors with information on services and organisations that can help lessen the impact of violence on their lives.