President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured the private sector that the government will continue to play its part as the sector pledged millions of rands in donations to the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Response Fund.
The fund was virtually launched by the president and various stakeholders on Thursday and was aimed at financing and supporting the implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on GBVF, and the wider GBVF response in the country.
“Government departments will be held accountable for the work they do and for the resources that have been committed. I want to assure you, therefore, that before asking you to commit resources, we are committing our own. Gender-based violence and femicide impacts us all and requires collective action,” said Ramaphosa.
The creation of the fund is a fulfilment of a resolution of the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Declaration which followed the 2018 GBVF Summit.
It will assist in various initiatives aimed at strengthening the justice system and access for victims, driving social change and broadening economic access for women and victims of gender-based violence.
The president said progress had been made in the implementation of the national strategic plan, but the Covid-19 pandemic had affected funding.
Nearly R21 billion had been allocated over the three years of the medium-term expenditure framework in support of the national strategic plan pillars.
“In a very constrained financial climate… we have had to urgently divert national resources to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and like every other area of work this has had an impact on our gender-based violence and femicide programmes, nonetheless we continue to prioritise the empowerment of women in all our programmes,” said the president.
The fund would be led by International Women’s Forum South Africa (IWFSA) and is to be chaired by Wits University Chancellor Judy Dlamini.
IWFSA president Irene Charnley said:
“Today’s launch honours and recognises women and girls whose lives and voices mattered, but were silenced by the GBVF pandemic and our inability to put enough resources behind ending. This is a response to the plight of women and children across all 44 districts in our country who live in fear and die every day due to the GBVF pandemic.”
Nicolette Naylor of the Ford Foundation, which pledged R20.2 million, said the fund was a perfect platform for various stakeholders to collaborate in the fight against GBVF.
“The hard work around developing the NSP was the first phase and as a foundation, we have been committed to this process that we must remember was catalysed by brave women and girls who took to the streets two years ago to demand action by the government,” said Naylor.
Besides the Ford Foundation, Ramaphosa also acknowledged the contributions to the fund by Anglo-American (R30 million) and ABSA (R20 million).
Another partner of the fund is Academy Award-winning actor and philanthropist Forest Whitaker who through his organisation, the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative, had been involved in community dialogues, surveys and other outreach programmes in Cape Town.
“It is not just the voice of women that matters, we have also included the voices of men in the conversation. Too often the epidemic of gender-based violence spreads because of the silence that surrounds it and because too many men are left out of the discussion, but men must be included in this discussion. The meeting today suggests that things are moving in the right direction,” said Whitaker at the launch.
This article was first published by News24 (04 Feb -Written by Lwandile Bhengu)