The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) urges all South African to end a “conspiracy of silence” around the abuse of women.
The organisation has issued the following statement:
National Women’s Day offers an opportunity to recognise the struggle for substantive gender equality in South Africa; to celebrate acts of courage by women who played a remarkable role in our history; to reflect on progress made in the achievement of equality for women and girls; and to advocate for change.
This Women’s Day, the SAHRC wishes to reaffirm its solidarity with women and girls and its commitment to the struggle for substantive gender equality and the attainment of human rights for women and girls. Furthermore, the Commission pays tribute to women, both nationally and internationally, who have devoted their lives to the struggle for substantive equality for all women and girls.
While recognising the gains we have made, the Commission also condemns, in the strongest terms, the ongoing violence against women and children in South Africa. The Commission calls on all men and boys to join the fight for gender equality and the eradication of abuse and violence against women.
The Commission acknowledges and commends the State’s ratification of international and regional human rights instruments and the obligations that target the achievement of gender equality by 2030.
Specifically, the Commission applauds South Africa’s response to the 2017 UN Women’s “Women in the Changing World Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030” campaign, which calls upon all actors to “Step It Up for Gender Equity” towards a Planet 50-50 by 2030 by ensuring women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.
The Commission also acknowledges South Africa’s domestic obligations on gender equality, entrenched in the Constitution and legislation, as well as government programmes that seek to entrench gender equality and which prioritise women and girls’ access to economic opportunities.
Despite progress made towards the achievement of gender equality, a remarkable amount of work lies ahead in the achievement of this goal. These challenges are particularly striking in the area of gender based violence (GBV) and in the workplace.
GBV disproportionately affects women and girls and remains deeply entrenched in institutions, cultures and traditions in South Africa. GBV affects women and girls regardless of race, class or sexual orientation. Violence against women remains endemic, as evidenced by ongoing reports in both the mainstream media and on social media of violence perpetrated against a woman allegedly by a Deputy Minister, as well as the attack on a woman at a restaurant in Pretoria.
A successful paradigm shift in our attitudes towards women and girls requires that everyone – individuals and institutions – work collaboratively. We all share the responsibility to promote an enabling and empowered environment for women and girls and to end the ‘conspiracy of silence’ around the abuse of women, not only during August and during 16 Days of Activism campaign, but throughout the year, every year.