A year ago on 5 December 2016, the Western Cape High Court declared conditions in Pollsmoor Remand Detention Facility to be in breach of the Government’s constitutional obligations to detain inmates in conditions consistent with human dignity.
This is just one human rights achievement which has been captured in a newly released 16-minute video, which celebrates the achievements of Sonke Gender Justice since its founding in 2006. The video also tells the story of the nearly 250 people who have worked at the NGO as well as the people whose lives have been impacted by Sonke’s work towards a world in which men, women and children can enjoy equitable, healthy and happy relationships that contribute to the development of just and democratic societies.
Sonke has been working to advance gender justice in South Africa and the region for more than a decade. During this time Sonke has:
- Changed laws and policies in South Africa, across Africa and internationally
- Held the powerful to account
- Amplified community voices
- Made important contributions to advancing gender equality and health for all
- Engaged in successful advocacy to ensure that court rulings and appointments to the bench reflect and reinforce gender transformation
Of Sonke’s growth over the past decade, Sisonke Msimang, author and Sonke Chairperson, 2008 to 2012, says in the video: “I’ve appreciated watching Sonke grow over time and evolving – because South Africa has evolved – into a space where women and men lead Sonke now and are asking questions that require men to change.”
The video highlights Sonke’s important work in mobilising communities, promoting gender equitable norms, holding public figures and institutions to account, calling for a National Strategic Plan on gender-based violence, using strategic litigation to further human rights, advancing child rights and positive parenting, our work in the region and our work to increase and improve HIV services for men.
Sonke’s latest Annual Report (2016/17)
Sonke’s 2016/17 Annual Report highlights the important work done during the period March 2016 to end February 2017. Included is Sonke and Laywers for Human Rights’ landmark victory in which conditions at Pollsmoor Remand Facility were found to be unconstitutional as well as our work with other civil society partners in attaining justice for Nosipho Mandleleni who was murdered at the hands of her partner, ex-ANC Youth League leader, Patrick Wisani.
The video and Annual Report are released as Sonke celebrates some significant achievements of the past few months:
- The Mail & Guardian Investing in the Future and Drivers of Change Health Award was awarded to Sonke Gender Justice on the evening of Friday 1 December 2017 for our groundbreaking work in health and human rights in prisons.
Sonke’s multifaceted work on prison reform has included a strategic mix of community education and mobilisation, legal and policy advocacy, communications and mass media and ongoing research.
- The month prior, on 10 November 2017, Sonke was awarded the Overall Human Rights Award in the Foundation for Human Rights’ inaugural Mogambri Moodliar Human Rights Awards.
According to Dean Peacock, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Sonke, “These awards are testimony to both the effectiveness of multi-pronged and ambitious strategy and a dedicated staff willing to stay the course over the long term no matter the challenges.”
These awards build on a number of significant human rights achivements, which indicate that Sonke’s work is achieving real impact in South Africa and globally.
- On World AIDS Day, 1 December 2017, UNAIDS released a report entitled “Blind Spot: Reaching out to men and boys”. Together with our partners including the Athena Network, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Promundo, and MenEngage Africa, Sonke has partnered with UNAIDS and other UN agencies for nearly a decade to draw attention to the urgent need to reach men and boys with HIV services and to address the harmful gender norms that contribute to men’s and women’s vulnerabilities to HIV and AIDS.
- On 29 November the Labour Laws Amendement Bill was passed by the National Assembly. This is a landmark achievement for which Sonke, together with other civil society partners have been advocating for many years. It will expand and improve parental leave for all parents and when signed into law will advance gender equality, improve women’s access to training and equal employment and enhance children’s wellbeing.
- On 19 October 2017, Sonke celebrated another important human rights victory when the South Gauteng High Court ruled that the common law defence of reasonable chastisement is not in line with the Constitution and no longer applies to our law. The court said that protecting our children was particularly important in the context of the high levels of child abuse and violence that pervade our society.
Against this backdrop of human rights victories and recognition of Sonke’s impact, we are proud to share the Sonke 10 Year Anniversary video and our latest Annual Report – both of which illustrate the organisational energy which makes these victories possible.