Gender-based violence (GBV) continues to be a grave and widespread problem in South Africa, with attacks against vulnerable communities unabated despite decades-long campaigns. It is time for all South Africans, and students and young people in particular, to step up and take a stand against this scourge, says Rosebank College.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign in South Africa is crucial for reflection, action, and solidarity. It is a time when the nation comes together to address the deeply rooted issue of gender-based violence. While progress has been made, there is still much work to be done to create a South Africa where gender-based violence is no longer tolerated.
As students, we are uniquely positioned to drive change. By uniting in this cause, educating ourselves and others, advocating for policy reforms, supporting survivors, mobilising our communities, and engaging men and boys, we can help build a safer and more equitable society. Together, we can bring about lasting change.
As students, we hold a unique position in shaping the future of our nation. We must recognise the vital role that students play in addressing and eradicating gender-based violence.
What can we do?
The Power of Education: Education is a potent weapon against gender-based violence. South African students have the opportunity to engage in discussions, workshops, and awareness campaigns to deepen their understanding of this issue. By educating ourselves and our peers, we can challenge stereotypes and promote a culture of respect and equality. Get involved in programmes and initiatives on your campus and in your community.
Advocacy and Policy Change: Students have a strong voice and the power to advocate for policy changes that address gender-based violence comprehensively. We can engage with policymakers, attend rallies, and participate in movements that demand stricter laws, better law enforcement, and improved support services for survivors.
Support and Empowerment: The 16 Days of Activism is an excellent time for students to support survivors of gender-based violence. We can share helpline numbers and resources, provide a safe space for survivors to open up, and offer empathy and encouragement.
Community Mobilisation: As students, we are part of various communities on and off campus. Let us mobilise our communities through events, marches, and discussions that raise awareness and foster a sense of unity in the fight against gender-based violence.
Engaging Men and Boys: Engaging men and boys is essential in breaking the cycle of gender-based violence. Students can lead discussions on toxic masculinity, consent, and healthy relationships. By promoting positive male role models and encouraging respectful behaviour, we contribute to a safer society.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is a global campaign that takes place annually from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, International Human Rights Day. This period serves as a crucial platform to raise awareness and mobilise action against one of the most pervasive and deeply entrenched human rights issues – gender-based violence. In South Africa, this campaign holds significant importance due to the alarming prevalence of gender-based violence within the country.
South Africa’s history of apartheid, coupled with high levels of poverty and inequality, has contributed to the persistence of gender-based violence. The legacy of apartheid left behind a society marked by social and economic disparities, which disproportionately affect women and marginalised communities. Gender-based violence often stems from power imbalances, and the post-apartheid era has seen these imbalances persist in various forms.
This year, let us as students take a stand and get involved, to ensure the legacy of gender-based violence ends with this generation.