By: Sphindile Magwaza and Lunga Memela
The Health Systems Trust (HST) backed public and private sector entities in support of the Departments of Health (DoH) and Social Development (DSD), District AIDS Councils, men's health fora, and the Office of the Mayor in eThekwini to promote a comprehensive 365 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children. This call was made on 25 November 2021 during a launch of the global 16-day campaign hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Office of the Premier at the International Convention Centre in Durban.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Health and Social Development Departments attest to local communities being overwhelmed by extremely high statistics of violence against women and children. They advise that victims of violence should experience no shame or stigma, and that women, girls, the LGBTQI+ community, boys and men should be encouraged to speak out if they ever fall victim to any form of violence.
The event was officially opened by KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala and attended by dignitaries who all said: Enough is enough!
In her opening remarks, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said: "I would like to join my colleagues and reiterate the salient point that any form of violence against women and children, be it physical, emotional or sexual, is an affront to our basic decency and humanity. It is a gross violation of women and children's fundamental human rights and there is no excuse for it. And that is why we are here today: because together, we have the power to do something about it, in our individual capacities, as a collective, and as a nation."
Minister Zulu explained that the 365 Days Child Protection Programme of Action is an initiative to strengthen the government's commitment and response to prevention of and protection for children against violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. "The purpose is to scale up interventions geared towards promotion and protection of the rights of children during this difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The campaign is integrated with the seven INSPIRE strategies for ending violence against children, which is a technical package for preventing and responding to violence against children. It is our plan to align the 365 days campaigns with the District Service Model so as to reach people on a local level for them to see the difference in the delivery of services."
The seven INSPIRE strategies are: implementation and enforcement of laws; norms and values; safe environments; parent and caregiver support; income and economic strengthening; response and support services; and education and life skills.
Zulu said that the DSD was committed to stimulating dialogue with men to identify challenges and pledge actions against violence as community leaders. She called for the participation of men, even boy children, to learn while young about valuing women, and for private and NGO partners to support government's efforts to prevent violence against children. She expressed hope that the prevalence of this violence in the country will decline.
The Premier's Office has subsequently launched a KZN Gender-based Violence and Femicide Strategy, which is underpinned by the following six pillars:
Pillar 1: Accountability, co-ordination and leadership
Pillar 2: Prevention and rebuilding social cohesion
Pillar 3: Justice, safety and protection
Pillar 4: Response, care, support and healing
Pillar 5: Economic power
Pillar 6: Research and information management
Team HST at the exhibition stand.
HST's involvement on the day
The Health Systems Trust hosted an exhibition stand at the ICC on the day, with collective representation from the SA SURE Project, the Unfinished Business for Paediatric and Adolescent HIV (UB) Project, the CCMDD/Dablapmeds programme, the MINA men's health campaign, as well as the Communications Unit.
Among the service-related activities and information presented by the HST teams at the event were:
The dignitaries and event organisers thanked the NGOs for showcasing their programmes that assist communities and families to mitigate all forms of violence − including hate crimes against non-binary and gender-diverse individuals – and to address the impact of gender-based violence and femicide.
HEALTH SYSTEMS TRUST - CONTACT DETAILS
1 Maryvale Road, Westville, Durban, 3630
+27(0)31 266 9090