The summit, which will be held on Thursday and Friday, was set as President Cyril Ramaphosa’s response to a number of demands delivered during a #TotalShutdown March in August.
Participants of the march presented a set of 24 demands to Ramaphosa, one of which was that he convene a gender-based violence summit.
According to a statement from the Presidency, Ramaphosa appointed his special adviser working with the Department of Justice to lead the process to convene the summit.
Invitations have been sent to various representatives from civil society organisations, traditional leaders, academics, faith-based organisations, labour, business, development agencies, media and the advertising sector. Participants include the youth sector, women from both rural and urban areas and from all across the country.
Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the opening remarks. A number of commissions will convene thereafter to thrash out the thematic areas with a view to coming up with resolutions.
“Government and civil society agree that the time has come for gender-based violence and femicide to be given the urgency it deserves by all South Africans. We call on all citizens and communities to take a stand and support efforts that contribute towards ending GBV and report cases of violence to the authorities,” said Phumla Williams, Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) acting Director-General.
According to the latest report released by Statistics South Africa on gender-based violence, 70 813 women reported sexual offences in 2016/ 2017 as compared to 31 665 in 2015/2016. This is over a 100% increase in violence against women and children.
“A number of interventions ranging from legislation, policies, programmes, community-based dialogues and awareness campaigns in communities have been made by the government over the years. Sadly, the country continues to witness high levels of violence against women and children,” the statement said.
In July this year, government, together with a number of civil society organisations and churches, called a 100 Men March to raise awareness and get men to join the fight against violence targetting women and children. The 100 Men March was followed by a TotalShutdown March a month later.
Williams said the summit will create a platform of engagement to reflect critically on initiatives to date and identify actions for improvement, outline a roadmap to a South Africa free from gender-based violence and femicide and align different initiatives to create mechanisms and processes for effective coordination, planning and implementation beyond the summit, among other aims.
– African News Agency