A series of community dialogues on matters including mental health, prostitution and drugs will take centre stage in the coming weeks as the country observes 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children.
The 16 Days campaign will be launched on 25 November 2018 under the theme ‘#HearMeToo: a collective appeal to society to hear women’s pain and demands against gender-based violence (GBV)’.
The theme is also a call to action for all survivors, witnesses and society at large to continue to speak out against violence perpetrated against women and children.
Unveiling the 2018 events for the 16 Days during a media briefing in Tshwane on Saturday, Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Bathabile Dlamini, said it is only when citizens collectively speak against the scourge of violence that the country can hope to completely end it.
Dlamini said the #HearMeToo theme uses a “robot” (traffic light) to define a set of actions against GBV.
“The robot is an instant and critical determinant between healthy and unhealthy relationships. The robot is about protection and safety. It is about taking precautionary measures, asking for help, and leaving a destructive relationship,” Dlamini explained.
The green of the robot symbolises #Lights4Life; amber stands for #SeeTheSigns and red is #Run4YourLife.
Dlamini urged all women’s organisations across the country, including community activists, academics, public servants and concerned communities to consolidate their calendars for the 16 Days of Activism.
She appealed to organisations to continue to build and sustain their own indicators so that the State does not rely on the indicators of the Police Department alone.
She said the Ministry of Women has invited all pillars of the State to strengthen national efforts towards a South Africa that is free of all forms of discrimination on the basis of sex, gender and sexual orientation.
The National Heritage Council of South Africa CEO, Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa, commended Dlamini for adopting an activist approach in dealing with matters of violence against women and children, noting that the issue is beyond an “academic classroom approach”.
“For the first time, we’ve seen the mobilisation of society outside the boardroom, and it’s very encouraging. The whole struggle against discrimination of women is a societal struggle,” Mancotywa said.
Social activist Mbuyiselo Botha said #HearMeToo confirms that South Africa is part of the global village. He challenged religious leaders to popularise the #HearMeToo theme during their prayers.
“Issues of violence are not peculiar to Christian communities; they cut across. What kills South Africa is the level of silence that is promoted by religion and culture… What disables us is how we’ve normalised and institutionalised violence as a way of life,” Botha said.
The 16 Days of Activism campaign will be launched at KwaNzimela Anglican Church Hall in Melmoth, KwaZulu-Natal.
The calendar of events for the period includes strategic dialogue sessions with boys and men, discussions with women traditional leaders, honorary commemorations of the lives and legacies of women comrades, who lived and died for the struggle against gender inequality, including Charlotte Maxeke and Albertina Sisulu.
Discussions with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and allied (LGBTIQA) and the community will take place in various provinces.
This year’s International Day of People with Disabilities on 3 December 2018 will focus on mental health, where women will have an opportunity to present their challenges as a means of assisting survivors to close painful chapters.
“It’s important for us to understand why on a weekly basis young people commit suicide and why we have dysfunctional families. We need to understand and ensure that there is adequate action to meet these challenges,” Dlamini said.