Gender-based violence in South Africa

The high rates of gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa, further highlighted by a number of high-profile cases over the last few years, has given rise to significant public support to end GBV. Government has made some efforts towards ending GBV, but these have been marred by inefficient coordination and almost no budget provisions made towards prevention and services.

One such effort towards effective coordination was the National Council on Gender-Based Violence (NCGBV), a council created for the purpose of drafting and implementing a national strategic plan (NSP) to combat GBV. Since its formation in 2012, it has been destabilised by political changes and lack of funding to execute its mandate. There has been no word on its status since 2014 when Minister Susan Shabangu was appointed as Minister of Women and the Ministry failed to reconstitute it and provide an update on its status.

Stop Gender Violence: A National Campaign

In response, civil society organisations across the country came together in 2014 to form the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence (NSP GBV) campaign, demanding a fully-costed, evidence-based, multi-sectoral, inclusive and comprehensive NSP to end GBV. The campaign’s mandate and objectives have since broadened to be more inclusive of GBV as a whole. As such, the campaign was renamed in May 2016.

The campaign is focused on four areas:

  • Provincial engagements with grassroot organisations and beneficiaries
  • Advocacy with media and communities
  • Research and policy work on civil society’s NSPGBV shadow framework
  • Engaging with the government to ensure uptake of the NSPGBV – a more comprehensive plan that addresses all forms of gender violence and not only violence against women.

The campaign carries out the following activities:

  • Capacity-building and administrative support to civil society groups in advancing efforts of the campaign.
  • The production of technical materials and briefs to strengthen the content of the NSP on GBV, including research and writing a civil society shadow NSP framework to inform the final NSP on GBV.
  • The coordination of provincial hearings to ensure that grassroots voices are able to shape the NSP agenda.
  • A petition signed by South Africans demanding an NSP on GBV. Find the link here.
  • A postcard campaign with individualised personal stories of women affected by GBV, which are posted to the Minister of Women, urging action. You can see these here.
  • Marches across the country demanding an NSP on GBV and calling for an end to lip service, unfunded mandates, and no more empty promises.
Photo by Alexa Sedgwick
Photo by Alexa Sedgwick
Photo by Alexa Sedgwick

GBV NSP Campaign Postcards

Diagnostic review of government strategies to address violence against women and children

In 2014 KPMG was commissioned to conduct a diagnostic review of government strategies to address violence against women and children (VAWC) and what could be done to strengthen them. It reviews both the institutional and programmatic mechanisms by which the state addresses violence against women (VAW) and violence against children (VAC). It considers the ‘whole of government’ response, covering overarching challenges faced by 11 key departments with roles to address VAWC. It considers the state response across the three spheres of government: national, provincial and local.

The report was embargoed for many months but is now finally available online at We place them here for ease of access and to make sure they remain easily available for civil society activists and researchers:

Endorsement from the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women

In December 2015, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Dubravka Šimonović, conducted her first official visit to South Africa. The aim of her visit was to examine the causes and consequences of violence against women and children. In her report following her visit, she outlined the need for significant reform in the police, the judiciary and in terms of state coordination. She addressed the fact that significant attention must be given to prevention and awareness raising which she described as an “urgent need” and supported our call for a National Strategic Plan on GBV. She states, “I support the call for a National Plan to end GBV which… will create the necessary roadmap needed to effectively respond to this pandemic.” She further added that any efforts to end GBV will be in vain if significant resources are not made available and, therefore, states that Treasury must be more effective in regards to gender budgeting.

Structure of the campaign

The campaign is currently comprised of 36 organisations and is continuously growing.

It is divided into two working groups – the Advocacy and Technical Working Groups.

The advocacy working group has taken the lead on identifying key advocacy opportunities and engages the media and government when these opportunities arise.

The technical working group is continuously working on an outline of a technical NSP shadow framework with input from wider civil society, as well as external experts providing an objective view of the framework.

A Task Team has been established to lead, coordinate and facilitate the process of the campaign. Organisations in the Task Team are: Sonke, MOSAIC, NACOSA, Access Chapter 2, Love 167, and Greater Rape Intervention Programme. Sonke and MOSAIC serve as co-secretariats of the campaign.

The following organisations are part of the campaign as of August 2016:

See our short video on why we need an NSP on GBV here.

Like our Facebook page (NSP GBV Campaign) and follow us on Twitter (@NSPGBV).

To join the campaign, email the membership form (found here) to

“No more empty promises! No more unfunded mandates! No more lip-service!”