Address by Mme Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, on the occasion of a webinar on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Roadmap to the establishment of the National Council on GBVF
Programme Director, Mme Mmabatho Ramagoshi
Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly, Mme Thandi Modise
Acting Director-General of the Department, Dr Annette Griessel
Members of the former Interim Steering Committee on GBVF
Our development partners from UN Women
Leaders and Representatives of Civil Society Organisations.
Today’s webinar on deliberating on a roadmap for the establishment of the National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide is timely.
On this day, we celebrate World Albinism Awareness Day and reaffirm our commitment to address the challenges faced by this community.
We also salute and pay tribute to the Class of 1976 for their contribution to our democracy as we celebrate 2020 youth month under the theme “Youth Power: “Growing South Africa together in a period of COVID-19.”
We are meeting during an unprecedented time in our country’s history. We are facing double-edged sword of the escalating incidents of Gender-Based Violence and Femicide and the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is our first Gender-based Violence and Femicide Webinar since the Presidential Summit on Gender-based Violence and Femicide which was held on the 2nd and 3rd November, 2018.
I would like to express outrage at the recent spate of gender-based violence and femicide in various parts of our country. These include but not limited to the horrific murders of women in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Limpopo and other provinces.
In this regard, the horrific murder of 28 year old and eight-month pregnant Tshegofatso Pule; 25 year old Naledi Phangindawo and countless other young women who have lost their lives for no reason breaks our hearts and angers us daily.
Furthermore, the case of a 30 year old male suspect arrested 2-weeks ago in Limpopo for allegedly killing his girlfriend and burying her in a shallow grave at ga-Setati village outside Polokwane is another recent example of the violence that targets women daily.
I wish to condemn these vile acts in the strongest possible terms.
These cases remain a sad reminder that the women of South Africa are not safe both in public and private spaces.
As a mother and a Minister responsible for advocating, promoting and protecting the rights of the most vulnerable in society, there are no words to express how I feel about these incidences of gender-based violence and femicide.
I bury my head in shame and wonder what it’s going to take to stop this madness, barbaric and inhuman behaviour by people who believe that they have a right violate women’s bodies.
At the moment, I find it difficult to call myself a ‘proud South African’. Our nation, in particular men of our country, need to have a deep introspection about their attitude and behaviour towards women.
Is this the type of society we all dreamt of; and so many fought for by paying the highest price to attain it?
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are aware that as Government, we need to do everything possible to ensure justice is served. I would like to assure you that His Excellency President Ramaphosa and I remain committed to eradicate the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide in our country.
You will also recall that on 30 April 2020, the President launched the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide National Strategic Plan. The Plan is now ready for implementation.
The President has also released the Emergency Response Action Plan (ERAP) Report to the nation to inform them about progress made in efforts to combat the gender based violence crisis.
Our country is currently confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic and the national lockdown. We have received alarming reports that there has been escalation in cases of gender-based violence and femicide during these period.
We are therefore called upon like never before to act with urgency, agility and determination to eradicate this scourge in our country.
Our Government recognises and acknowledges that we cannot do this alone. This is a societal problem that needs all of us to rally all our efforts and resources collectively and confront this enemy head on.
Time is not on our side, one more dead body of a woman, is one too many.
We note and acknowledge the concerns raised by civil society regarding the development of the statutory framework that governs the Council to ensure its effective functioning; and establishment of a gender based violence fund.
Earlier in the year, Cabinet approved the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide National Strategic Plan and the establishment of the National Council.
Cabinet also approved the setting up of the Inter-Ministerial Committee and directed the Committee to move expeditiously in formalising the Council.
The latter will take charge for the implementation of the NSP and will review after a period of almost 2 years.
I am also pleased to inform you that, just this week Cabinet approved the GBV Policy Framework in Post-School Education and Training System.
The policy framework seeks to respond to the increased number of GBV-related cases at institutions of higher learning.
At this stage, given the urgency of driving and overseeing the work to eradicate gender-based violence and femicide, we will later pursue the possibility of setting up legislation in this regard as directed by Cabinet.
Therefore, it is incumbent on the IMC to move with speed and urgently establish the National Council which will be tasked with implementation of the NSP; and take recommendations made at the 2018 Presidential Summit Against GBVF forward.
In the event the need arises for a legislation framework, this matter will be revisited. However, we remain committed to continue engaging you as our critical partners in the fight against gender based violence until we collectively win this war.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The incoming Council will also be tasked with the setting up of the GBVF Fund. The Department is aware that civil society has already taken an initiative of investigating and developing guidelines of establishing a fund based on feminist principles.
When the process is ready to be fast-tracked, we can all engage and reach a consensus.
Therefore, the Department has organised this Webinar and many others to come, to share the planned processes that would shape how we consult and engage on these matters, till the Council is in place.
Building on the Interim Gender-based Violence and Femicide Steering Committee spirit of collaboration, we remain committed to continuing to engage as widely as we can, within the current constraints imposed by COVID-19.
It is against this background that the main purpose of this meeting today is to deliberate on processes for the establishment of the National Council for Gender-Based Violence and Femicide and that will support the IMC to fast-track this work.
In conclusion, I wish all of you a productive session as we forge forward in ending gender-based violence and femicide.
I thank you.