Sonke Gender Justice (Sonke) applauds the open letter to all male leadership issued by Social Development Minister and ANC Women’s League president, Bathabile Dlamini, last week. It is a powerful and courageous example of the kind of activism and engagement that we need from people in positions of power, including representatives of government.
Minister Dlamini’s statement, which she wrote in her personal capacity as a woman and an activist, opens up dialogue on an issue we do not engage with robustly enough in our country; the effects of patriarchy on every sphere of life, particularly for women, girls and queer individuals. Her letter makes it very clear that unless our collective goal is to dismantle patriarchy and address some men’s negative use of power, we will, as she points out, continue to have a society where racism, homophobia and violence infiltrate every facet of our lives.
Sonke strongly agrees with the Minister’s suggestion that dismantling patriarchy is about confronting the behaviours and attitudes of abusive men in business, government, in NGOs and in households. At Sonke, some of our work directly addresses the knowledge, beliefs and attitudes of men and boys in society because we recognise that this significantly reduces violence against women and other manifestations of men’s abuse of power.
We believe the civil society campaign calling for the development of a National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence (NSPGBV), which includes a strong focus on prevention, would be one of the most strategic ways to achieve the important goals Minister Dlamini lays out. One of the key demands of the NSPGBV campaign is for government to allocate significant funds towards the prevention of gender-based violence and to ensure that crucial services get the money they need to remain operational. By taking these steps, the gender-based violence that is crippling our country can be dealt with and brought to an end.
Minister Dlamini, we applaud your bravery and openness and support your challenge to all male leadership of South Africa to walk the talk and become part of the solution in our collective goal to ensure a safer South Africa for all. We appeal to you to support our call for a NSPGBV which would go some way to achieving this.
Tanya Charles: Policy Development and Advocacy Specialist, Sonke Gender Justice
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: 011 339 3589
Dean Peacock: Executive Director, Sonke Gender Justice
Email: email@example.com | Tel: 021 423 7088