Amnesty International SA: From peace in the home to peace in the world

By Prince Charles

Universities need to stop viewing gender-based violence as a mere criminal issue, gender-based violence is a human rights violation and all human right violations are enemies of development. The reduction of gender based violence to just a women’s issue to the exclusion of men is a major hurdle.

In 1998 South Africa signed on to an international awareness drive called the 16 Days of Activism for no violence against women and children. The annual campaign which starts on the 25th November and ends on Human Rights Day (December 10) has several goals namely;

  • To encourage all South Africans to help eradicate violence against women and children
  • To encourage society to acknowledge that violence against women and children is a social, rather than governmental problem
  • To encourage collective responsibility within communities to tackle violence against women and children

It was in this context coupled with a sharp increase in violence in universities that Amnesty International South Africa together with its various university chapters convened a discussion on how to address gender-based violence in universities in Port Elizabeth. The human rights organisation convened the discussion with the objective of learning directly from university students about the gender based violence situation in universities and furthermore involved various stakeholders in interrogating possible solutions into the phenomenon. The stakeholders included Amnesty International’s university chapters from the University of Pretoria, University of Witswatersrand, Nelson Mandela University, University of Cape Town, University of Stellenbosch and the University of Western Cape.  Also represented were ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, Masifunde Learner development, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, United Nations Association of South Africa and the Congress of South African Students.

Human right activist Susan Tolmay kicked off the session by drawing a broad picture of the current situation around gender-based violence at institutions of higher learning and made specific mention of the horrific rape incident that took place at the Nelson Mandela University where a male perpetrator raped and robbed two young women at a computer laboratory in October, the incident sparked widespread protest and highlighted fundamental differences in the understanding of gender based violence between university management and the student body. The panel spoke in unison that gender based violence was a human rights issue and therefore required a multipronged approach.

Several speakers were of the view that language as an institution was perpetuating and undermining the fight against gender based violence. The language used in campaigns against gender based violence was regressive, campaigns which label gender based violence as a ‘scourge’ were severely criticised, Nobubele  Phuza pointed out that “the scourge is not gender based violence, but it is those men who rape women, they are the scourge”. The reference to people who have been sexually assaulted as being ‘raped’ and labelling them as ‘rape victims’ or ‘rape survivors’ also has profound consequences as it leads to stigmatisation and hinders the call to speak out against violations. Language as an institution was therefore responsible for the normalisation of violence in society because it allowed for a passive voice which exonerates men from responsibility; representatives of Activate in their presentation quoted Jackson Katz where he argues;

“We talk about how many women were raped last year, not about how many men raped women, the use of the passive voice has a political effect, it shifts the focus off of men and boys and onto girls and women. Even the term ‘violence against women’ is problematic. It’s a passive construction; there’s no active agent in the sentence. When you look at the term ‘violence against women,’ nobody is doing it to women. It just happens to them…Men aren’t even a part of it”.

Panellist Vuyo Tshingila lamented the absence of certain voices in the fight against gender based violence at universities and in general society. The absence she argued was due to the fact that society had an obtuse binary/ heteronormative bias when it addresses issues of violence. This automatically created ‘marginalised bodies’ that included refugees, members of the LGBTIQ+ community and rural women.

Another burning issue was the policy framework of institutions of higher learning (particularly sexual harassment policy) the student body accused the universities of not publishing sexual harassment cases. Students also made startling allegations that political movements in the institutions were harbouring rapists, who in turn used sexual assault incidents as tools of political mobilisation. The health care services also received condemnation with students decrying the level of violation young women encounter when they are subjected to rape kits after sexual assaults.

The Nelson Mandela University responded by acknowledging that it is indeed a contradiction that incidents of violence occur in a space named after a Nobel laureate and human rights activist. The institution appealed for a solution orientated engagement rather than a confrontational one and went on to unpack the launch of its Memeza campaign; a campaign which involved the distribution of yellow whistles which are blown once someone is in distress. The whistle is both a literal and metaphorical item in the sense that it is a call for the student body to be ‘whistle blowers’ against gender based violence.

After a multipronged multi-sector dissection of the issues, the entire house agreed that men had to first acknowledge the privilege they enjoy due to the patriarchal arrangement of society and be active participants in changing the current reality of violence. Civil society movements need to partner and make sure that the language used in campaigns against gender based violence is modified and is more politically correct. A fundamental shift in policy by universities is necessary to ensure accountability and to empower marginalised bodies within the higher education space.

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR)

By Nomtika Mjwana

WARNING: Sensitive posting related to violence against queer bodies.

History

It was the year 1998 in Allston, Massachusetts on November 28, when Rita Hester, a black transgender woman, died as she was murdered for reasons related to hate crime (transphobia). This happened two days before her 35th birthday, and she was stabbed in her apartment. [1] “Everybody knew her, especially in the trans community and in the African-American LGBTQ communities,” these were the words of Irene Monroe, a black woman, theologian and columnist who uses an interdisciplinary approach drawing on critical race theory, African American, queer and religious studies.[2]

This was one of the many murders of transgender people, and as a result it started a movement of remembrance to honour the lives of those who had died before, during, and after Rita’s murder. Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20) is recognised in many countries around the world as a day to remember [transgender] friends, community members and family who have lost their lives due to hate crimes.

South Africa is no different. We remember and recognise our colleagues, friends and comrades who have lost their lives. On the TDoR website, the life of Sihle, a transgender woman from Duncan Village in the Eastern Cape who was stabbed to death, is remembered among many other transgender people who have died from different parts of the world between November 20, 2016 and November 20, 2017. These are recorded names and cases, and are often not a reflection of the actual/total number of people who are killed for reasons related to sexual orientation and gender identity. Most campaigns addressing violence against women do not draw attention to the vulnerability of transwoman and the ongoing killing of all trans persons, and therefore not engaging and sensitising communities on issues and realities related to gender identity. This further creates structural, systemic, physical and other forms of violence against queer bodies.

Sistaazhood (a transgender support group), Gender Dynamix, the Sex Workers’ Education and Advocacy Task Force (SWEAT) and the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition (SRJC) partnered in putting together a TDoR event in Cape Town at the SWEAT offices. This took place on Tuesday, November 21, 2017.

This event brought together civil society activists and transgender persons to a space where they are confronted with the experiences of trans persons and engaging on allyship and how best to work in advocacy towards addressing violence on the basis of gender identity. Liberty Banks from Gender Dynamix gave an opening talk on the history of TDoR and expressed how it is unfortunate that beyond the vulnerability of trans people, they are still the ones who have the responsibility to educate people and communities on gender dynamix and complexities. “TDoR also commemorates the lives of transgender persons who have taken their own lives because life has become so unbearable”, she said. Liberty also stated that TDoR was a day for us (activists) to reflect critically on what is happening in our communities, in our society, in our country, regionally and globally. “Most of the killings on the TDoR website are in South America, Europe and some in the United States of America, and Africa is so silent with regards to the fact that this is actually happening in our continent”. She added that our [trans] brothers, sisters and gender non-conforming counterparts are being killed in the continent and this is being invisibilised and silenced because our society struggles with the fact that there is life beyond heteronormativity and being cisgender.

Activator Nkokheli Mankayi from Nyanga Crossroads says that the idea that being cisgender (a person whose gender identity and sometimes expression ‘corresponds’ with their birth sex) is the “right and only” way is violent and puts many trans and non-conforming people at risk of all forms of violence. “We grow up in communities where we and our peers are fed the idea that anything outside of being cisgender is wrong and sinful. This has resulted in many young people running away from home, being disowned, killed and murdered. It has to stop and we need to educate ourselves and peers more. I am non-conforming; my pronouns are neither he or she and yet I find myself having to be patient with people referring to me as a he. It’s exhausting to even have to correct people all the time”, they said.

This theme  also came up on a Life Orientation policy brief that was developed by the Critical Studies for Sexualities and Reproduction (CSSR) at Rhodes University, in which one of the key areas that came out was that Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in schools in heteronormative and enforces rigid gender roles among many other things. The policy brief can be found on the SRJC website here. This shows that the great amounts of time spent by children in schools learning about life skills is limited to heterosexuality and cisgendering when it comes to understanding bodies and one’s expression of gender identity. It is a structural issue that needs to be addressed from a systemic level.

We remember the lives lost due to hate crime, and we hope to start in our communities, teaching and educating our fellow peers, respecting and engaging with people in their diversities with no harm. All forms of violence and oppression must be addressed and eradicated.

[1] https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-trans-murder-that-started-a-movement

[2] http://www.irenemonroe.com/

 

16 Days of Activism Activator Events

In observance of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, Activators across the country will participate in various programmes and initiatives aimed at raising awareness about this scourge.

On the 24th November from 09:00 to 14:00, Port Elizabeth based Activators will join Amnesty International at the Nelson Mandela University as part of a panel-discussion themed “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All”. Contact Activator Prince Charles for More Information on 081 446 1903.

On Saturday the 25th November, Activators from across the Free State will gather at Goldfields Casino Hall in Welkom as part of the BMF Gender Catalyst Seminar. For more information contact Activator Mihkenso Ngobeni @ 073 185 2031

In Eldorado Park in Gauteng, Activators will be at the launch of the #ZEROTOLERANCE Campaign as coordinated by the Eldorado Park Local Drug Action Committee in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Social Development and the South African Police. Contact Paris Makaringe for more information at 082 515 7520.

Khayelitsha based Activator Ntombisizwe Mkonto will launch the #ThePeopleVsHer campaign aimed at highlighting the pertinent challenge of gender based violence. The campaign coincides with the launch of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence on the 25th November. For more details contact Ntombisizwe @ 071 725 7665

On 30 November Activators in Merafong, Gauteng will join AfriMan Rising Campaign, the brainchild of Sello Maake kaNcube Foundation. Various dialogues will be held around challenging violent masculinity. For more information contact Nhlanhla Ndlovu on 076 689 6231

Fees commission report rejected

By Bawowethu Jonas

The Poor of the poorest

Young

The youth of South Africa is once again failed by the government of the country. This comes after the report of Fees Commission released by uBaba kaDuduzane, the State President, Mr. Jacob Zuma. It is not alarming that this commission would take its time to ponder on the concept and come up with an undesirable verdict (or finding) to the youth of this country.

‘’Black man (and young Black South Africans) you are on your own’’ – Steve Bantu Biko.

For far too long we were misled by the ANC government that #FreeEducation is feasible and will be implemented. It is not a secret that the commission that was established by the ANC has openly declared no confidence in the models suggested by young, innovative South Africans. The year 1996 was when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was assigned to usher justice to South African Apartheid victims, it lost its mission, and failed the victims. We have witnessed white people march under the false pretense of #BlackMonday where they went as far as to publicly venting on their apartheid support by waving an apartheid flag as a symbol of support for the previous regime. This is a vivid demonstration that the apartheid legacy is alive and kicking. I recall very well when Mr. FW de Klerk refused to appear before the commission (TRC), calling it all sorts of names, including ‘circus’ but what is more alarming is for the proclaimed democratic government to keep ‘shoosh’.

We again had the #MarikanaMassacre commission of enquiry that was assigned to bring the perpetrators to book, but I can tell you that after five (5) years, to date, there is no one who is held accountable of the killings. Our parents where striking for a living wage, a wage that would fund and feed their children. A wage that would fund education so to pursue the dream of their children, a wage that would bring dignity to them, a wage that would bring dignity and warmth in their homes. Our parents were not only refused the wage increase but were murdered, massacred, hunted and brought to death by the State Police. This is the same state that makes education a commodity in our country and send police to vanguard the private sector. Where are we supposed to get the money from if we cannot demand it from the people who employ Africans? This Commission has not brought any justice to the widows, but failed them.

The year 2015 is the year when young poor masses woke up and decided to protest for Fees to Fall. This is the year when there was a fire across the borders of South Africa. This is the year when the undying spirit and ideas of Bra Steve (Steve Bantubonke Biko) kicked, when the bones of the black man shook on his grave because young people were one and were declaring unity amongst themselves, the unity of these young people forced the state to consider bringing free education in this country. The State head, uBaba kaDuduzane then established the Fees Commission to investigate the feasibility of Free Education in SA. Again this State brings a commission, a third commission. This is the commission that also brought a dissatisfactory report to the young people of South Africa, a finding that #FreeEducation is not feasible in South Africa. Kuyoze kubenini umntana omnyama ekhala?!

For how long will the youth of South Africa act blind towards this government, this is the government that does not prioritise the interest of young people. Young people must start to learn one thing; and that is to form their alliance and work on building each other. The youth of today must learn from the generation of 70s when it did not allow the government to sideline their interests. If it is not now, then it will never be!

We are being sold an education that was said to be the key to success by the first black President Ntate Nelson Mandela. This government taxes our parents and never funds us in the higher education. What kind of a government that suggests us to make loans in private banks? The government that has no alternative to fund us so we can build this country. If this government is keen on building this nation, why is it that it cannot invest in the interest of young people? Young people outside are hungry for education, but how will education be attained if we have to pay exorbitant amounts of money, and the same government does not provide sustainable jobs and/or decent wages to our parents? Who is fooling who here? Who is the future of this nation? Is it us or there is no future for this nation?

Enough with the questions, and protest young people, superior logic must prevail now and work on a solid plan for us. Let us not allow the politicians to grab us into their political pockets, although it seems that if you do not have the power you are nothing. Here we form two thirds (2/3) of the country’s population. We have power in every form, we can vote or chose to abstain from voting. But it seems that the economic strategic sectors are ran politically, and these sectors are the ones that can bring solutions to our issues. Suffice to say; young people are the best to assimilate Lenin’s behests.

The Fees Commission report should be rejected by all poor young masses and action be taken without wasting anytime.

Image source: News101

 

 

 

 

 

Applications for Switch 2018 are now open!

SSEP APPLICATIONS OPEN 20 Nov 2017 – 19 JAN 2018

The applications for Switch Social Entrepreneurship Programme are now open!
Please read the attached brochure and below information to ensure you fully understand the programme, its offering and what it expects from you.

The SSEP accepts 60 candidates a year. Due to limit spaces, we are looking for the brightest and most sustainable social enterprise concepts. As the programme runs over 11 months, we’re also seeking activators who are fully committed to learning and building their idea.

Please see more about the programme on our Facebook page and attched brochure.

Basic requirements:

  • Completed the ACD Training
  • Basic computer literacy
  • Access to internet and a computer
Time Management:
The SSEP is a part-time programme so you can complete it while working and/or studying but please note that time management and planning is crucial to get the best out of this experience.
There are 7 home missions that need to completed by required deadlines throughout the year. Although we provide plenty of time for these to be completed, it is still important that you plan your SSEP work according to your availability.Remote Support:
SSEP prides itself in creating a warm, supportive and family-like environment for all candidates. We offer loads of support via various platforms, regardless of where you are. Any challenge does not need to be experienced on your own as we’re always here to help. We understand life happens and we have your back the whole way through.

Missions:
Missions are home tasks which you’re expected to complete within a certain time frame. These missions are fun, offer significant skills development and bring something new to you with each one. The biggest mission of the year is a fundraising event which you will plan and host (with our support of course). Please note that your confidence will grow with every mission and they are designed to help you learn and build your idea. Resources and support is continuously shared on our SSEP Facebook group for your convenience.

Communication/Accountability:
Thorough communication throughout the programme is important to ensure a positive experience for all involved. Should you face any challenges, miss a deadline or have a change of personal details, please be sure to communicate with the SSEP team via email, Facebook or phone.

Cancellations:
Should you miss a mission deadline or workshop without prior communication, it results in immediate programme cancellation.
Every deadline and workshop is compulsory to complete the programme.
Should you choose to cancel your SSEP journey, please note that we reserve the right to request death certificates/doctors notes.

Cost:
R 150 (non-refundable) for those who have been accepted and choose to join us.
Switchers cover their own travel to provincial workshops and the annual seminar. SSEP does NOT offer travel reimbursements.

Workshop locations:
The locations of the workshops during March/April 2018 is dependent on the location of successful applicants but we visit almost every province – meeting you half way 🙂

SSEP does not:

  • Offer funding or financial support for any project.
  • Offer an accredited certificate
  • Incubate small businesses (we are a PRE-incubation programme)
What happens after SSEP?
Once completing the whole programme, you join a network of previous Switchers and awesome connections within and beyond the Activate network related to social enterprise.
You will receive a letter of completion detailing the various skills you have acquired.
Although we are not an incubator, we will have partnerships with incubators across the country and offer those connections to the most dedicated Switchers who have been able to excel throughout the programme (meet every deadline and show significant growth) – should you choose to start your own project.Many Switchers choose to take their SSEP learnings to further their studies or find work with an existing social enterprise. This is also a great path to take.
You will be included on a mailing list and Facebook group of continuous opportunities.

I’m ready to apply! What now?

Please apply online here

The outcome of your application can be expected in your inbox by end of January 2018. We wish you the best of luck!!!

Men march to fight violence against women and children #Activate16Days #NoExcuse

Men march to fight violence against women and children #Activate16Days #NoExcuse

On Sunday the 19th of November 2017, Takuwani Riime! collaborated with various stakeholders from across various sectors to organise the Men’s March aimed at encouraging men to take action against gender-based violence. The ACTIVATE! Change Drivers network had the privilege of being part of this important and historical gathering which took place in Cape Town.

The march coincided with the launch of #Activate16Days; a campaign aimed at urging Activators and young people from all corners of the country to encourage communities, and men in particular to play an active role in addressing the challenge of gender-based violence. The campaign further seeks to provoke new ideas and approaches to address the pressing challenge of gender based violence affecting communities across the country.

Research indicates that men are generally perpetrators of gender-based violence and gender injustice in society. Interestingly, men also commit acts of violence against other men, with 9.6% of men reported to having experienced sexual victimisation by another man. In this light, it must be highlighted that men exist within communities, and as such ought to be encouraged to play a meaningful role towards finding solutions to interminable challenges facing society today.

On the 18th of November 2017, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers was invited to participate in a round-table discussion at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. Offering her message of support to the Men’s March at the event, Minister of Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu maintained that in an effort to end gender-based violence, society must reach to men to play a meaningful role in communities across the country. “We see men mobilising society to influence the kind of change we want to see, and we must encourage this.” she said.

 Speaking at the same event, activist and feminist Simamkele Dlakuva urged men to interrogate how society in general and men in particular define masculinity. “Men are generally portrayed as enraged and violent, but I would like to see them as loving beings” she maintained. The dominant narrative about men in society in general is largely devoid of contextual analysis of the role traditional masculinity plays in the socialisation and conditioning of men. Moreover, our acceptance of the dominant narrative without question hinders us from hearing stories of individuals, including our own stories.

The #Activate16Days campaign represents an important platform to change the narrative that is supportive of violence and provoke new approaches. Join the campaign and encourage men in your community to contribute meaningfully towards addressing gender based violence.

Upcoming events

On the 24th of November 2017, Activators in Port Elizabeth will join Amnesty International at the Nelson Mandela University for a dialogue themed “From Peace in the Home to Peace in The World: Make Education Safe For All!”

On the 25th November 2017, Activators in the Welkom in the Free State will join Black Management Forum at the BGM Gender Catalyst Seminar at Goldfields Casino Hall.

The ACTIVATE! network in Cape Town will attend the 2017 Nelson Mandela Annual Lexture to be delivered by the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J Mohammed on the 25 November 2017.

Activators across the country will be supporting various initiatives in observance of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence from 25 November to 10 December.

Ends

The breakdown of the Fees Commission Report

By Action Setaka

The 2016 and 2017 academic year will go down in history as years which marked the unity of young people, specifically students beyond the political spectrum and colour. It saw a generation notoriously labelled as arm-chair critics and social media revolutionaries assuming their rightful role as constructors of the future by taking it to the streets to demand free education. The commission was set up by President Jacob Zuma to discuss modalities and the feasibility of free education. Fast-forward to 2017 on the 13 November. The President issued the fees commission report which got a bittersweet reaction from the student population and activists in general. Let me breakdown some of interesting issues:

  1. Elimination of application and registration fees:

This is one annual headache for many prospective students; indeed the Commission removed the burden from the shoulders of the students and parents. Students fall prey to Mashonisas (cash loans), Sugar daddies and are subjected to slavery in big business in an attempt to fundraise registration fees.

  1. Free education for TVET students through NSFAS:

This recommendation is worth celebrating particularly considering the country’s quest to make TVET colleges centres of choices. South Africa is in need of technical skills provided by TVETs in order to narrow the list of scarce skills we have in the country in the form of electricians,boilermakers, plumbers etc. The main worry is if we do this to TVETs only, it will be tantamount to the racist and divisive tricameral parliament where TVET will be for the poor(mainly black)s, the rich(mainly white) and few middle classes will attend the universities as they will afford them. What is done on the left must be done on the right, so the Commission must not divide our people. Same avenues must be explored in varsities.

  1. Education Fund for individuals, corporate and international aid agency

The willing donor mechanism still exists in institutions of higher learning and through other NGOs but it doesn’t bring desired outcomes. For corporates and the wealthy there should be binding legislation in a form of corporate/wealth tax to fund free education. Education for all requires a radical call which binds its corporate citizens to play a meaningful role.

  1. The income contingency loan

Banks are going to facilitate loans for education and government to act as collateral, this is a decision to open doors for a world of debts for our students and it is a strategy to pump profits and enrich these banks as they will be at liberty to charge exorbitant interests, here Judge Heher and his team confirms that private sector submissions in the Commission resonated well in their ears. This recommendation is a big victory for the banks and a spit on the working class and the poor. Their (private sector) inputs to the Commission was to address the “’how do we eat” question at the expense of our miseries.

  1. Early Childhood Development (ECD)

The Commissions observation on the importance of Early Childhood Development is commendable and factual. One always argues that the quagmire of challenges we are facing in education is isolation and resourceless early childhood development, if we get this stage wrong, no attempts will rectify the situation. Large chunk of budget should go to Early Childhood Development. Our focus on grade 12 to measure ourselves simply scratches the surface, the real root of the problem is on Early Childhood Development. Perhaps integration of early childhood development into mainstream education would be a step in the right direction.

To conclude, genuine demands needing immediate attention are always subjected to bureaucratic processes which delays (with cost) service delivery to our people. The costs of these commissions are too high. South Africans must make a determination on whether they let free education be a political power or a social power but my advice to young people is that they must relentlessly fight for what is right. We are the future and this future is sooner than we expect.

As the ACTIVATE! network is widely known for its constituency which has a galaxy of ideas on the future of this country, I engaged them and these were some of their views:

“To be honest, I have always seen that free education can’t happen anytime time soon. Not in the state our country is in. Anything that has development and empowerment, our government only supports by words not action. And sadly whatever that was presented yesterday, has shown where our government stands in terms of education, they don’t care.” Activator Sabatha Segoba, Free State

“I haven’t read it or got comprehensive reporting on it but from the little I’ve heard I don’t support the idea of accessing loans through banks especially if there won’t be conditions put to banks on how much interest they should charge and all other terms of repayment. Though banks could provide more efficiency in the whole system incl repayments but without conditions put to them I won’t support this idea. I don’t know why this whole fees issue is being complicated so much. Reasonable people appreciate the fact that SA can’t afford free education for all. A threshold (R350000 or whatever) must be put and then the rest who earn above that should take NSFAS loans which should be interest FREE.” Activator Thembinkosi Sithole, KZN

“ I haven’t read the whole of it but what I have read so far honestly its not adequate also the government wants to hand over the economy to white capital monopolies all over again.” Activator Rinae Sikhwari, Limpopo.

“It brings suspicion on why it was delayed and It nearly cost students their academic year. I think that we should accept it. As these are baby steps to reach the destination we want. To say government is not doing enough is unfair. Lets all work together to ensure that we peacefully achieve free education. As citizens it is not assisting if we are always in fighting mode whenever solutions are given. Our fight mode has proven to be costly as we burn libraries and schools which take us steps back to our dream. So my view is that lets accept it while working towards on solving the parts which are problematic.” Activator Philani Gumede, KZN.

Photo credit: JacarandaFM

Activators fighting gender-based violence

By Nomvuyo Sebeko

Gender-based violence is very common in our country. This year alone we have seen a lot of women being killed by their partners. We have also experienced the shocking revelation of children being killed for their body parts and some for rituals.

As a nation we have a long way to go in making sure that we do away with the gender-based violence. We need more than just a 16 Day campaign to fight this demon called gender-based violence. As a nation we need to have 365 Days of Activism against gender-based violence. We also need law enforcement that will follow procedures and protect all those who need protection.

With all that said we asked Activators what they will be doing during the 16 Days of Activism campaign and here’s what they had to say #Activate16Days.

Mzwakhe Ziqubu KZN 2013

As young people of Sedibeng District we saw the need to stand up against gender-based violence. We have experienced a lot of abuse in our community and people no longer see abuse as a problem but as societal norms. Our mission is that everyday 24/7 is Activism day; because everyone should be safe and free. We will be hosting a dialogue which will be creating awareness and making people be part of the campaign. In our engagements we will also invite other stakeholders and community leaders like the police and church leaders to spread the gospel even after the event. We would also invite our local radio station and newspaper so that community members who missed the event can hear all about it.

Eunice Ngwenya Gauteng 2015

“I am young person who grew up in a small community called ka-Bhokweni in Mpumalanga. I am currently volunteering at a care centre as a centre manager. Our focus is sexual abuse, emotional abuse and gender equality. We have started a programme called, Breaking the Silences against Women and Children and Gender abuse. The programme helps victims speak up and tell their stories so that they can get help and justice. We are hoping for the community leaders to be involved in our programmes so that they can help us get justice for the victims. Since we have started the Break the Silence programme, we have seen a large number of victims joining us and telling their stories. What we have planned for this coming 16 days of Activism campaign is to start another programme called Teen’s Group where we teach young people how to notice the signs of abuse and how they can protect themselves. We want this programme to grow big and be a programme that helps young people fight gender-based violence and abuse as a whole. We are hoping for all the change we can get in our community, we know that if we fight this as a family (community) we will win. We only need one step at a time then we will get there.”

As much as we support the 16 Days of Activism campaign, we need to ask questions about the outcomes of the campaign. We need to know how it is helping us as the nation to fight the growing number of abuse in the country. We as young people need to know why even after the Government introduced the campaign we still experience the killings of young woman and children in our communities, if the campaign is not working for us as a nation we need to find an alternative.

What role should the youth play to eradicate poverty in SA?

By  L.J

 

Poverty reduction is a subject that has attracted a lot of debate in the past three decades. Poverty is a global challenge that goes beyond social and political issues to include economic issues. Therefore, solutions aimed at breaking the vicious cycles of poverty cannot be limited to political and social policies, but call for a radical set of measures that are comprehensive and well-coordinated. Economic growth as the ultimate solution to poverty. This is relatively because economic growth brings with it a number of reforms i.e. structural, regulatory and trade that play a major role in addressing poverty related issues. This essay seeks to highlight ways in which youth can eradicate poverty in Southern Africa and how economic growth is its ultimate cure.

In the past, agricultural productivity growth rates were closely related to poverty reduction rates. This implies that economies that reported rapid growth rates in agricultural productivity also experienced great results in matters poverty reduction. The hunger problem is relatively tragic when the populace rely heavily on rain water to grow products. If we can start growing our own food like corn, rice, different types of beans, fruits, wheat and sugar cane, all that can be able to sustain our families and even our communities to sell some of the food we grow ourselves, with the money we can buy few animals such as chickens bit by bit, we can be able to start buying other animals such as cows and sheep’s, that can help us with milk and meat. We can now go into shops and sell. As time goes by we can move to big supermarkets. In this way we will be creating employment as well for others who will be able to feed their families alleviate poverty.

Therefore, we need to approach our Government to encourage foreign and local investors by providing a good business environment where high returns to investment are guaranteed. Be competitive with international counterparts as well. There is need to create awareness on the need to acquire advanced skills that can be utilised in manufacturing firms to harness better wages.

We can reduce poverty through creating sustainable Jobs that has corporate responsibility. When people have jobs, they have income, and when people have income, they can more easily get themselves out of poverty. We must stop mixing business with pleasure. We need to educate our young girls. The government should design programs that will empower them. A woman’s degree of education is linked to the age at which she marries and has children, to her health and diseases, to her economic opportunities, to her social standing, and to her general future wellbeing. Educating girls and women can reduce poverty in southern Africa. Insufficient education is a significant factor contributing to poverty high level. It can never be overemphasized because education can make changes about everything. Today African children do not have access to education which is required to let them gain knowledge and skills, to equip them to have better ideas and opportunities for employment. We need to engage in programs that will help us come up with new ideas and teach us Leadership skills. Financial education is very key as well so that as young people we should be able to use money wisely and stop being consumers but producers of products. We need to be involved in all spheres of the Government. Engage our government to increase minimum wage. Because of this, right now, “A full-time worker with two children earning the minimum wage will still raise his or her family in poverty.” And this is an issue in southern Africa. Raising the minimum wages could potentially increase the health and wellbeing of millions.

The lack of technology, Southern Africa is very rich with natural resources such as fertile soil, enough rain and sunshine for cultivation, raw materials, oil, gold and many other major resources but lacking ways of exploiting them. No advance technology or industrial infrastructure to channel these resources through real incentive to accelerate the development.so as young people we need to acquire more skills in information Technology so that will be able to use the skills to channel these resources and eradicate poverty in our land.

As youth we should engage our political instability and corruption head on and make sure that we are involved in decision and policy making of our country. As youth we need to be in Governance. We need to start being involved in politics so that we can represent the masses and correct the mistakes our Fore leaders have done. Leadership is one of the key problems. Most of the African governors are busy with their own business and hand in hand of foreigners are draining the public resources out in favor of their overseas partners. Majority of African leaders are dictating those policies which are just match with their own private and not the public interests. Leaders try to run the country by copying the modern western state systems at domestic level and neglect the tradition and culture of their own people. With such negligence, the political atmosphere in most Southern Africa states is not well enough for safe investment and its level has been restricted to the sectors for washing out their resources in favor of western countries.

As young people the steps are to focus on good governance, social responsibility and elimination of corruption. Develop our educational systems, infrastructure, and labor markets which will able ours to exploit our resources in the global markets. Increase economic input on national income through the important exports of major resources such as oil, gold, raw materials, timbers, fishers. Encourage agriculture sectors, proper management of resources and foreign investment. This can be met through the demand of trade reform that will help small scale farmers and enriching their agriculture and other sectors like services and labor. In other words we should target the extremely poor people and enabled them to contribute to development by improving their health, education, provide agriculture subsidies instead of wasting expenditures all will lead to economic growth. There is need to educate the population and motivated them to maintain it. Donations can help as well to build basic infrastructure. The southern African nations need political and economic policies that will aid our growth and lessen our dependence on outside charity. In order to eliminate poverty is to be stabilised in peace and may be reduce the population to have access to more food instead of more people with the less food. Even few African countries that have experienced sustained high growth over the last few decades are now reported to have reduced their absolute poverty levels, but the important aspect is that the gains of economic growth should be distributed fairly to reach the poor people in the country.

Engage more in massive food production. We have over millions of hectares of unused cultivated land, billions of rands are spent in southern Africa for buying food each year. We should focus all our efforts on investment policies in agricultural sectors and training programs for more efficient water management, new techniques of cultivation, irrigation and harvesting. In addition of these issues and to rapidly increase productivity, the fertilizers as well as sufficient suitable machinery and equipment for conservation of agricultural products should be provided for the African farmers.

As young people we need to have focus of changing our communities and country at large. Stop making a lot babies that we cannot look after thus resulting in poverty. We need to use our God given skills and Talents to empower each other with more knowledge. Transform our minds through motivating each other. We need to respect and learn from our experienced elders. Have faith as our Guide and weapon in life. We should stop being beggars.

We should go to school to enlighten our minds, find our purpose, loot at what has been left in the markets, business gaps and ideas, create opportunities and start businesses and corporates, be encouraged more especially those in agriculture sector. To never indulge in fear of the future but rather plan well and know what we want. Almost everything has been made available by our current government whereby we as young people are the ones to benefit more out of every program by our government. The environment is conducive for us. We need to stop being lazy. Zealous spirit, go-getter kind of mind must be reinstalled in most of our young people and we will be able to eradicate poverty in the southern Africa.

Aluta Continua

 

Image from Google.

YESPeace Network Builds Peaceful and Interconnected Communities

By Rammolotsi Sothoane 

Gender based violence is a widespread and profound social concern in South Africa. According to research, up to 40% of South African women have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse in their lifetime. Reports further show that 50% of children in South Africa will experience violent abuse in various forms in their lifetime. Despite being a fundamental violation of human rights gender based violence is often deeply rooted in socially accepted gender inequality and discrimination and is therefore condoned.

On the 13th November 2017, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers and Africa Unite collaborated to host the SDG 4.7 Interconnectedness, Gender and Human Rights: Youth Training Workshop in Durban, South Africa.  The workshop was made possible by the generous support of the YESPeace Network; a collaborative effort led by the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development aimed at transforming education to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially Target 4.7.

THE PURPOSE

Outlining the purpose of the workshop, Brilliant Nyambi of Africa Unite emphasised that gender based violence is fundamentally a human rights violation. “Human rights are essential to achieving sustainable development and as such it is important to create enabling platforms for communities to learn about Sustainable Development Goals, especially insofar as they relate to the pursuit of human rights.” Brilliant maintained. Key among the objectives of the workshop was the promotion of quality education on gender and human rights in an effort to create peaceful, interconnected and sustainable communities in and around Durban South Africa.

50 youth leaders from various organisations including ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, Africa Unite, Anova Health Institute, Community Care Givers, Ubuhle Bentsha Development Centre, Amaoti Youth Changers, Health 4 Men, Safer Cities, Lindelani Youth Forum, Deprived Youth Service and Nalibali participated in the workshop.

The workshop unanimously stressed that gender is deeply intertwined with other socio-economic and political issues; solutions aimed at addressing socio-economic justice and political peace are incomplete without the inclusion of gender justice. The SDG 4.7 Interconnectedness, Gender and Human Rights Workshop essentially sought to create an enabling environment for youth leaders involved with gender justice and peace building initiatives across Durban to engage with the critical question of how communities can contribute towards promoting gender justice, peace and sustainable development.

Sanele Hadebe, representing ACTIVATE! Change Drivers in the KwaZulu Natal Node expressed his appreciation to the organisers of the workshop for having created a platform for community and youth leaders to gather knowledge and skills to be able to contribute meaningfully towards building peaceful and interconnected communities.

In August 2017 the State of Urban Safety released its second report focused on the state of crime and violence in South Africa’s nine urban settings and in it identified Durban as one of the most violent cities in South Africa. The most vulnerable in society, including women, children and the LGBTQIA+ community bare the most brunt of this violence.

“Young people must be empowered to make a positive contribution towards creating peaceful communities across the country. Participating in this workshop presented youth with a platform to be equipped with critical skills necessary to play a role in advancing human rights and peace in their respective communities” said participant Mankhosi Mcube.

The workshop ended on a participatory with participants expressing an interest in collaborating with the YESPeace Network to create similar opportunities for learning on how to promote peace, interconnectedness and sustainable development in their respective communities. Organisers of the workshop and affiliates of the YESPeace Network; ACTIVATE! Change Drivers and Africa Unite committed themselves to coordinating more of these workshops across South Africa and the greater Southern African region in the year 2018.

 

Strike a woman, strike A WOMAN!

By: Kay-Dee Mashile

I remember that day vividly! It was the Sunday after Module 2 and a fellow Activator lady and I were walking from the Shoprite that’s at Adderley Street, Cape Town, to meet the rest of the group at the Company Gardens. We shared about our lives as we walked… at some point, we spoke about the issue of womaning; I think it was in reference to the topics discussed during our ActivaTEDtalks the previous day. Two strong black female leaders, academics at that, talking in the safety of mutual understanding… she said something that stayed with me to this day. She said, “Everyone kept on saying that I should be strong when uMama (her grandmother) passed away. But I wasn’t okay! I couldn’t be strong… I am not a rock. I’m not even supposed to be a rock…” and this reminded me of the words Casca had said during one of the sessions, I think it was at the same ActivaTEDtalks session… he said, and I quote, “The struggle of women is unnecessary. Women shouldn’t have to struggle. Men must stop subjecting women to an unnecessary struggle…” these two statements are the anchor that holds this article.

No human being is, in fact, born hard. We are all born fragile and vulnerable; every touch can literally make or break us. Equally so, no woman is innately a rock. Something happens to the woman which hardens and subjects her to a rocky status. The famous saying, Wathint’ umfazi wathint’ imbokodo, proves this point… because, as it translates, it is when a woman is struck that she then becomes a rock. Hardness is a response to a hit, a strike, from people and situations. It is rather unfortunate that the very unnecessary striking of women has become so normal in society that we have acquainted ourselves with hardness that we even celebrate it as strength. When, in actual fact, these rocks are merely tombstones that serve as reminders of what was once a strong woman.

Whatever you believe, it is a universal truth that every living thing was created as it is because it can only serve its purpose best in that specific form… the birds, bees, lions, monkeys, and even plants; everything in nature is structured exactly how it must be to function optimally in itself and in relation to other created things. The same is true for women. Women are not tender and nurturing by accident, it is in a woman’s nature to be “soft”. Forcing a woman to go against her natural need to love and care, to birth and build, thus goes against the natural working of things. In short, subjecting women to rocky states robs society of the role that women are meant to play. That woman who has to work twice as hard to progress has to sacrifice the time she could have used to raise her children in efforts to provide for them. Equally, women were never meant to father their children, it is the strike of absent fathers that hardens women to a point being able to raise their children on their own. Their ability to do so should, however, not be seen as an invitation to keep on striking women into single motherhood.

Take for instance the Lion Mama lady who fought three men off of her daughter and, in the process, stabbed one of them to death. Although her actions were indeed brave, she was a victim nonetheless. She was actually victimised way more than most… She was first a victim of the rape of her child, then a victim of the justice system that accused her of murder when all she did what protect her daughter, lastly, she was a victim of public opinion. Society’s expectation of her to be rock hard during the hardest of seasons may have robbed her of the opportunity to express the hurt and trauma she experienced. Being expected not to show her true feelings may even keep her from healing…

While there is nothing wrong with celebrating the strength of women, there is certainly no reason to subject women to situations that force them to be strong, unnecessarily so. Should there be something that strikes a woman into rock mode; society should not banish her into the Stone Age for the rest of her life. Instead, we should strive to help women heal from the generations of oppression and hurt. We should create safe spaces for women to work through their pain and reclaim the true strength that lies in their ability to build and nurture. It is good and well to celebrate Amaqhawekazi, but we must be careful not to create the misconception that women can take violence and oppression. Women have taken injustices for way too long, we must now actively look at ways to facilitate healing for women while socialising men to stop subjecting women to unnecessary struggles.

What part will you play? All abuse is unnecessary, we can actually live without it, and we should. Every day should be a Day of Activism against the very UNNECESSARY Abuse of Women and build a society where women are not rocks. And if you are a man, make it a point that you educate other men to respect and protect women – if you don’t strike her, she will never have to become a rock.

Tanzania National Youth Assembly

During the month of November 2017, the Vijana Assembly and YESPeace Network successfully hosted and facilitated the Tanzania National Youth Assembly in Arusha Tanzania hosted by the the Institute for Accountancy University. They hosted a total number of 652 delegates of which 339 were females and 313 were males. The ages varied between 15-35 from all regions in Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Burundi. The majority of the youth were between 15 – 30

The event was hosted with the aim of creating a platform for youth practitioners to share their best practice on how they are promoting peace and sustainability through education within their spaces, the facilitation team from Kenya and Tanzania held a conversation and education around the SDGs and the impact which they have in our society. There was a well informative discussion around the objectives of a national youth council and the young people who are part of youth councils within their governments joined the discussion to provide more clarity and insights. Through the discussion it was realized that there is a possibility of forming a youth council for Tanzania.

The member of the YESPeace Network Activate Change drivers from South Africa lastly conducted a dialogue which focused on exploring possibilities of collaborations and how there can be a sense of interconnectedness and connections in the society. This rich conversation created an opportunity for the youth to also share their commitments of how they plan to promote Peace, Sustainability and education in their society. There was some individuals who also shared their personal stories of peace and healing.  Jonas Kessy, a victim of drug abuse shared his story and what he is doing in his community to eradicate the use of drugs and violence.

“When I started I didn’t know the effects of drug abuse… My testimony can be very helpful to victims of drug abuse” Jonas Kessy

The event was well attended and supported by the office of the regional commissioner and the regional commissioner himself Mr Mrisho Gambo as the main guest speaker. Mr Gambo’s was impressed and proud of the Vijana Assembly team and the YESPeace Network for organisation such a well-attended and informative gathering. Mr Gambo further shared with everyone his commitment to support the work of the Youth in Arusha and possibility supporting the YESPeace Network for the upcoming events and activities. “Be the change you want to see in Tanzania” Mr Gambo quoted the wise words of the honorable Mahatma Ghandi in relation to Tanzania.

Going forward Vijana Assembly and YESPeace Network Africa plans to host annual National Youth Assembly collaboration events within different regions around the African continent with new organisations who have just joined the YESPeace network from Kenya, Zanzibar, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

“We going to make Sure the Government officials who signed and committed to making sure the SDG’s are realised keep their promise” – Albashir from Kenya

There is also a possibility to host the capacity building workshops for some of the grassroots organisations who have shown a need and eagerness to learn about the Sustainable development Goals.

“The future of the African continent lies in the hands of the current young people and our passion can better be realised in collaboration,” Lezerine Mashaba.