By Rammolotsi Sothoane
The South African constitution guarantees equality for women and the LGBTQIA+ community as well as the right to freedom from violence, and access to socio-economic rights such as housing, land, health and fair labour practices.
As South Africa commemorates Human Rights Day on the 21st March, it is important to reflect on progress that has is being made to empower communities to exercise their rights as enshrined in the constitution. Notwithstanding progress that has been made through legislation focused on the promotion of redress and equality in South Africa, much still needs to be done to address the structural determinants of inequality, exclusion and fragmentation among other things.
The high and ongoing incidence of rape cases, the perpetuation of rape culture, as well as other forms of physical and psychological violence against women, girls and the LGBTIQA+ community represent a profound social challenge affecting communities across the South African society. Our efforts to build peaceful, interconnected and cohesive communities across the country must be cognizant of the dire need to address challenges facing the most vulnerable in society, centering women, children and the LGBTIQA+ community.
Gender equity and justice are fundamental human rights, guaranteed in the South African constitution. These cover political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights, including sexual and reproductive rights. Throughout history women’s rights and gender equality have been seriously undermined by patriarchal economic, trade and fiscal policies that have increased militarization, violence, poverty and inequality (United Nations Human Rights, 2014).
With respect to the afore-mentioned, it is incumbent upon to us to create enabling spaces for conversations that will ultimately propel meaningful action aimed at creating an inclusive and equitable society. ACTIVATE! Change Drivers and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation are committed to creating platforms for critical discourse on pertinent issues affecting communities across the country. The Gender-Based Violence and Human Rights Imbizo represents an effort to promote quality education on gender and human rights in an effort to build cohesive, interconnected and inclusive communities across South Africa. Imbizo (derived from the tradition of African people) are essentially solution based dialogues aimed at creating enabling spaces for people to engage and share practical solutions to challenges affecting the nation or community.