Thursday, November 26, 2009

South Africa Gender Machinery in Disarray

'SA gender machinery in disarray'


South Africa's "gender machinery" is in "disarray", with it not even being clear who is coordinating the 16 Days of Activism campaign, a group of NGOs said on Wednesday.

"At a time when it is most needed, participants noted, the national gender machinery is in disarray," read a statement from Gender Links and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR).

"There is a lack of clarity on which agency is driving the 16 Days of Activism campaign, which used to be housed in the Department of Local Government, following the establishment of the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities in April this year.

"The ministry has yet to hold a consultation with civil society organisations. There has also been a deafening silence on the status of the 365 Day National Action Plan to End Gender Violence adopted in March 2007 and coordinated by the National Prosecution Authority [NPA]."

They said there is also still no specific "domestic violence" category that would enable monitoring of the crime. They called on the government to resuscitate the 365 Day National Action Plan to End Gender Violence.

Their statement followed a three-day symposium convened by the CSVR under the banner "We can Prevent Violence". They also called for the establishment of a special fund to end gender violence, in line with regional and international commitments.

In addition they called on Fifa to use the 2010 World Cup to send out strong messages in support of the campaign to end gender violence as well as HIV/Aids.

They said the 12% increase in reported rape cases to 71 500 from April 1 2008 to March 31 2009 may in part be due to the expanded definition of rape under the new Act. The figures are unacceptably high and likely to be understated due to under-reporting.

The government was also still "well behind" in reaching the target of 81 one-stop centres for addressing gender violence by 2010 provided for in the National Sexual Assault Policy.

The 16 days campaign takes place every year from November 25, the International Day of No Violence Against Women.

It runs until December 10, which is International Human Rights Day. -- Sapa

View more on the Mail & Guardian's special report on 16 Days of Activism.

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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The heroes among us

VALENCIA TALANE - Nov 25 2009 06:00

I write this column as a tribute to all the women, young and old, from all walks of life, who have touched my life, most of them without knowing it. Some of them were in my life for a brief (but nevertheless blessed) encounter, while others always featured in the background, but had a distinct effect on me.

As much as this tribute is in light of Wednesday being the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse, it is also about the day-to-day heroes who live among us, but whose stories will go untold.

I feel indebted to these women, some of whose names I never came round to finding out, but who left such an impression on me that I carry the memories with me.

These are just some their stories:

One morning while I was still a student I boarded a taxi in Benoni bound for Johannesburg. One of the other passengers was a woman, of slight build, who had so much luggage with her that it took up the space of two people. She incurred some abuse from a group of taxi drivers outside the taxi who could not understand why, if she was determined to travel with so much stuff, she did not hire a van or truck to transport it to her final destination, Lesotho.

She did not answer any of their questions, and disregarded their brutal remarks, all the while carefully placing each item in the taxi. When finally done, and the taxi was full and heading out of the rank, it became clear that she did not have enough money to pay for herself as well as the two spots occupied by her luggage.

After a brief altercation with the driver, followed by one generous passenger's offer to pay for her luggage, order was restored in the vehicle, much to the woman's relief. Upon prompting from the rest of the taxi, she told her story: she was running away from her abusive and unfaithful husband and taking everything he owned and valued -- just to spite him.

Her children were in Lesotho, and she'd finally decided that she'd rather get back to them while she could still find work and provide for them, than live under the shadow and abuse of the man who "claims to love them but brings another woman home to sleep with while I am there".

Needless to say, the entire taxi -- occupied front-to-back by women, would you believe -- was shocked at her brevity and courage. The driver's attempt to defend all men was met with harsh words, and he was warned to keep his male mouth shut, or else!

I watched while, one after the other, the women in the taxi started to take out their purses, handing money to a self-appointed director and treasurer of the luggage woman's very own "taxi fund", and giving it to her, along with praise for her courage and advice on getting on with her life, for the sake of her children.

I got off the taxi before the luggage woman did, along with an elderly woman who made the driver promise that he would drop her off at the very spot where she could find taxis to Lesotho. I don't know how the rest of her journey went, but I was in awe at the manner in which she was received and celebrated by complete strangers.

In another encounter a few years later, I met a woman who had survived a family-suicide-gone-wrong, and lived to tell the tale. This woman's husband, I was told by a friend while we sat across the room from her at a children's party, had had enough. He had apparently been planning the suicide for a while, and this was evident in the details that came out after his death of the changes he'd made to his insurance policies and his final will and testament in the months leading up to the incident.

The shooting occurred on a weekday morning, and by the time the woman's colleagues started suspecting something was wrong -- she had not pitched up at the primary school where she taught -- her husband was dead and she was lying next to him, conscious of having escaped death, but unable to move towards the phone.

She was eventually rescued by her colleagues and recovered physically from the ordeal, but whether she has fully recovered mentally, is another question.

She did, however, leave her teaching job to start a small business. I never saw her again after the party, but her courageous triumph over her circumstances remains with me as a lesson on moving on after a tragedy and facing the rest of your life the best way you can, one challenge at a time.

I may not know where these women's lives have taken them, but I hope they are well and making waves around them. I hope there are young girls (and boys) who are benefiting from knowing these brave members of society.

Who are your women heroes?

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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Women drive growth -- but still paid less


The largest growing economic force in the world isn't China or India – it's women.

So pronounced CNN following the surprise finding that women are driving economic growth across the world.

And it's not just from shopping up a storm -- although it appears that women spend more than 70% of consumer dollars worldwide

In addition to the shopping cliché, the fairer sex can now be credited with creating a whopping 70% of the global growth in income at the household level over the next five years.

The findings are part of a newly released global research study by the United States-based Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which surveyed 12 000 women in 22 countries.

Defining the economy

Women, who account for half of university students across the globe, are increasingly defining the entrepreneurial economy.

But the encouraging numbers are yet to have any kind of effect on that stubborn glass ceiling.

BCG partner Michael Silverstein revealed that women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar men do. And the ranks of female CEOs are still thin. "Most of the big companies are worked by men, for men," he said.

In South Africa women have long been the powerhouse of their communities. But a local business programme aimed at woman has spotted a gap in management practice -- and one that women seem best-suited to fill.

“The increasing complexity and uncertainty of business in a globalised world are waking us up to the limitations of traditional management paradigms," said Dr Marjolijn Dijksterhuis, director of the Women in Leadership programme running at the UCT Graduate School of Business.

People-orientation 'essential'

"It is becoming clearer that the ability to lead people through change and toward cooperation and innovation has become essential to the success of organisations, and companies are now looking for leaders who can inspire that change.

“I believe women have a lot to offer in terms of these more people-oriented demands,” she said.

While government has been driving gender equality in Cabinet, we are yet to see that same change in CEOs across the country.

But with the sea change evinced by the BCG survey coupled with new leadership programmes, it may only be a matter of time before the ceiling is shattered.

The leadership course is offered by the Executive Education unit of the UCT GSB and runs next year in May. It is aimed at women in middle or senior level positions. Contact Junita Abrahams on 021 406 1323 or

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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