The International Women’s Forum South Africa (IWFSA) welcomes the Joint Sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces called by President Cyril Ramaphosa today (18 September 2019).
President of the IWFSA, Ms Irene Charnley, said: “We welcome the joint sitting that has taken place, and the commitment to address the completely unacceptable high levels of Gender Based Violence (GBV) that are prevalent in South Africa today and are systematically destroying the fabric of our society. In particular, we welcome the decision to establish an interim steering committee in the Presidency, co-chaired by government and civil society organisations. We are hopeful that this committee will be given the teeth to ensure that the issues identified in the President’s speech are handled quickly, efficiently and without bureaucratic delay. This is the essence of how to handle an emergency situation – which is what GBV is in our society today. We would also trust that business will be involved in this initiative as well.
“As the pre-eminent voice of women in business, we are determined to ensure that commitments made during this debate lead to concrete action being taken by all government departments, agencies and SOEs at all levels of government (national, provincial and local). This is not an issue that can be left to any single ministry on its own to implement.
“We are also mindful of the calls on business that were made by women during their marches in Cape Town on 5 September during the World Economic Forum, and in Sandton on 13 September. It is simply not good enough for business to continue to be silent on GBV, and we welcome the concrete proposals that were presented to the JSE to address GBV. We also underline the importance of economically empowering women and providing them with financial education, so that they have the ability to manage their own financial circumstances, without reliance on others. Women are an integral part of every facet of the economy and every business in this country. For business to refuse to take action against GBV is akin to the days in which they refused to denounce the evil of apartheid.
“Government, civil society and business must together take proper responsibility for this evil that has remained hidden in our society for too long. As an organisation, we are fully committed to doing our part to be part of the solution to ensure that the women and girl children of South Africa (including those who are bisexual, transgender, questioning or intersex) achieve their birthright to live in safety and free from any threat of violence,” she said.