The United Democratic Movement Women’s Organisation (UDEMWO) remains steadfastly opposed to violence against women as we commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and today we kick off 16 Days of Activism against Women and Children, which is held annually from the 25th of November to the 10th of December.

UDEMWO firmly believes that gender-based violence does not occur 16 days a year, it should be recognised as an act of activism every day. Every year, on 365 days, it happens all over the nation.

Violence against women is a serious issue in South Africa. This commemoration is especially important because gender-based violence is one of the highest in our nation. The 16 Days of Activism offer a fantastic chance for regional activists, the public sector, and the government to have frank discussions, create workable plans, and acknowledge the nation’s continuous efforts to stop gender-based violence.

With 10,818 rape cases registered in the first quarter of 2022, South Africa is regarded as the global centre of rape. We as South Africans definitely need to address the pandemic of women being killed by intimate partners, which is five times greater than the worldwide average.

Intimate partners, co-workers, strangers, and even institutions can inflict physical, emotional, psychological, financial, or structural harm as manifestations of gender-based violence.

Another burning issue in our country is period poverty and the desperate need for sanitary dignity among girls and young women in South Africa. I Menstruate recently published a research report titled Barriers to Menstrual Hygiene among School Girls in South Africa. It found that 83% of girls surveyed do not have regular access to menstrual hygiene products at school and home, which results in 25% of them missing school. While the national government budget is being allocated to the Department of Women, Children, and People with Disabilities in order for the department to roll out the Sanitary Dignity Policy and Framework of 2019.

In order to help survivors of GBV who are unable to reintegrating into society and contribute to psychological trauma and behavioural effects, UDEMWO is calling on the government to provide access to formal psychological and medical care. We are demanding that men, young boys, civil society, and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) take on a shared responsibility for supporting programs aimed at putting an end to gender-based violence. According to our Constitution, every person is entitled to the pursuit of life. We are all accountable for defending that right to life.

Issued by:
Ms Thandi Nontenja
UDEMWO Secretary General