Gender-based violence (GBV) is rife globally, with one in three women having experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. And during the pandemic lockdown, GBV increased sharply in South Africa. You can make a difference during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence by standing up for women in your community.
This year’s theme is ‘Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!’ Here are four ways to combat the cycle of GBV.
Fund: Pay it forward
- The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women & Children provides a range of services for women and children who are survivors of abuse. You can help with donations to sustain their initiatives, which range from counselling and legal advice to 24-hour shelters, skills training and mental-health support.
- Bags of Hope fills bags with various items, including toiletries, food, toys, stationery, clothing and blankets for those in need. Bags of Hope are distributed in various communities, particularly in the Western Cape. Support them by donating cash or dropping off items to fill a bag.
- Sonke Gender Justice is a non-profit that aims to unite women, men and children and mobilise them to advocate for gender justice. Their initiatives include fighting against gender inequality and the prevention of sexual and domestic violence, and the spread of HIV/Aids. They offer various community workshops and even policy development. Do your part by using their Whistleblower hotline to report abuse, harassment or bullying incidents.
Respond: Speak up for women
- Call out anyone for inappropriate sexual comments in the workplace, your social circle or online. This includes catcalling, sexist jokes and microaggressions. Challenge others to reflect on their behaviour when they cross the line.
- Listen to survivors and let them know that you believe them. Give them a voice by listening to their stories as well as sharing their experience (with their permission). This could be in the form of social activism, for example sharing the stories of survivors on social media platforms and amplifying them by using hashtags such as #orangetheworld and #16Days.
- Call on the government to prioritise funding to address violence against women and girls. This could be done on social media platforms such as Twitter or with petitions such as on Change.org.
Prevent: Start at the roots
- Stop the cycle of ‘boys will be boys’ by talking to your children about the importance of consent, body autonomy, women’s rights and equality between men and women. Call out any inappropriate behaviour early on and don’t let anything slide.
- Teach by example. Be a role model by treating women respectfully and with kindness and dignity. Encourage males in your circles to do the same and have open discussions about gender-based violence.
- Learn the signs of abuse so you can help those in need. If you suspect that someone is being abused or feels unsafe, share helpful resources with them such as abuse helplines, shelters and organisations as listed in this article.
Collect: Find and share accurate information
- UN Women is a branch of the United Nations that is dedicated to the empowerment of women and gender equality. It’s an excellent source of information on the latest updates surrounding the status of women.
- Commission for Gender Equality is a South African constitutional entity that advocates for gender equality, fighting GBV and women’s economic empowerment.
- SaferSpaces is a local knowledge hub that provides resources and information on GBV, including safety and violence prevention. It has resources available for the public and GBV survivors, including a blog, videos and articles.
For more advice related to gender-based violence, read these helpful articles:
- UN Women. (2020). Take Action: 10 Ways You Can Help End Violence Against Women, Even During a Pandemic. [online] Available at:
https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2020/11/compilation-take-action-to-help-end-violence-against-women [23 September 2021]
- World Health Organization. (2020). Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Violence Against Women. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-violence-against-women [23 September 2021]