Closing Media Briefing on 16 Days of Activism 2005

Introduction

The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children is an annual United Nations (UN)-endorsed campaign that commences on 25 November (International Day for No Violence against Women) each year and culminates on 10 December (International Human Rights Day). The objective of the 16 Days of Activism campaign is primarily to raise awareness of the violence perpetrated against women and children and therefore, provides a platform for all stakeholders to make their voices heard.

Media Briefing: 14 November 2005

This year's Campaign started with a media briefing on 14 November at the Wemmer Pan in Rosettenville. The purpose of the briefing was to inform both the print and electronic media about the various elements of the Campaign and to solicit their support for and participation in the Campaign. The event was hosted jointly by the South African Post Office, the Department of Correctional Services and Government Communications (GCIS).

Postcard Pledge Campaign

The Wemmer Pan Media Briefing doubled as the launch for this year's Postcard Pledge Campaign - an interactive element of Campaign 2005. In all, 1,5 million postcards were printed. One million of these have been made available to Campaign partners and to the general public via the South African Post Office outlets countrywide. The remaining 500 000 postcards were distributed as an insert via the Independent Newspaper Group during the first week of the Campaign. Thus far 99 000 postcards have been collected and displayed on the Wall of Solidarity at the South African Broadcasting Centre (SABC). These postcards will continue to be offered to the public throughout the festive season until 13 January 2006.

The Opening Ceremony - 25 November 2005

The Deputy President, Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka delivered the keynote address at the Campaign's Launch Ceremony, which took place at the Kathlehong Stadium. The ceremony was hosted by the Mayor of the Ekurhuleni Municipality, the Office of the Premier (Gauteng), the Gauteng Department of Community Safety and the Department of Correctional Services.

The Closing Ceremony - 10 December 2005

The Deputy President also delivered the keynote address at the Campaign's closing ceremony on International Human Rights Day. The closing ceremony took place in Lichtenburg and was hosted by the Lichtenburg Municipality, the Office of the Premier (North West) and the Department of Correctional Services.

At the Ceremony the Torch of Peace was handed to the Minister of Transport, marking the country's transition from the 16 Days of Activism Campaign into the Arrive Alive Campaign. The Torch of Peace will be handed by Minister Jeff Radebe to the Minister of Education in January to highlight the objectives of the Education Department's Safer Schools Project.

SMS Fundraiser

The SMS Fundraiser was managed (free of charge) by Leaf Wireless Solutions and all the mobile operators (Cell C, MTN and Vodacom) generously waived the standard fees usually applicable to such a process. To date R57 635 has been raised in this process.

Partnerships for Peace

The Campaign has always recognised the critical importance of partnerships between civil society and government. This year no less than 153 partners in the private and non-governmental organisation (NGO) sectors joined the Campaign. This is a record in the development of this eight-year old Campaign. There has also been a much stronger interest this year in deepening and strengthening existing partnerships.

Multi-media nature of the Campaign

The Campaign has traditionally made use of the print media and radio to carry its messages, but this year saw the introduction of television advertising to augment the overall messaging process. As the Media Monitoring Project's Interim Report shows, the public broadcaster - SABC (TV and radio) - has devoted considerable resources to the Campaign. The independent commercial stations such as e-TV, MNet and Supersport have also been exceedingly generous in their support.

From a media-first point of view, the hour-long panel discussions, for the two Sundays of the Campaign hosted by Jeremy Maggs on SAFM provided an innovative media response to the issue of Children and the Media. The Media Monitoring Project's efforts in association with Media@SAFM are to be applauded in this regard.

Website support for the Campaign

The official websites for the Campaign were http://www.womensnet.org.za and http://www.southafrica.info. A recent South African Google-search by Government Communications (GCIS) rendered no less than 28 000 website references to the 16 Days of Activism Campaign. Gender Links too indicated that their website (http://www.genderlinks.org.za) received 48 000 hits during November.

Cyber Dialogues

The partnership with Gender Links, the GCIS and the Johannesburg Metro provided a locus for debate and discussion that made use of cyber technology to take the thematic discussions (via a chat-room format) into rural communities in South Africa and across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. These efforts have provided a concrete example that bridges the digital divide in a format that is user-friendly, interactive and informative. Gender Links should be applauded for their seven regional chat-rooms in English, Zulu, Sotho, kiSwahili, Chichewa, Shona and Creole.

Calendar of Events

16 Days of Activism events were held across the country and Women's Net reports on its website that there were no less than 80 events featured on their website alone. The events ranged from solidarity marches to workshops and fundraising breakfasts. For further information on the calendar of events, please consult www.womensnet.org.za.

Legacy Projects as a direct result of the Campaign

Perhaps one of the measures of the Campaign's success is the number of legacy projects that were launched during the 16-day period; projects that leave a lasting and beneficial legacy beyond the 16 active days of the Campaign, to list but a few:

  • A house was provided for a single mother of three by Uthingo and Habitat for Humanity (value: R56 000)
  • Shelter for women refurbished and re-launched at Phuthaditjhaba on 3 December 2005 (Dept. of Social Development)
  • Shelter refurbished and upgraded by Radio 702 and Sisters of Mercy on 8 December in Hillbrow
  • 16 houses built by volunteers for 16 female-headed households in Gauteng under the guidance of that province's Department of Housing
  • 16 Houses built in a community participation project in the North West Province for 16 female-headed households in that province

NGOs that benefited from partners as a direct result of the Campaign:

Edcon

  • Life Line - R25 000
  • Childline - R25 000
  • CSVR - R25 000
  • POWA - R25 000

Cell C

  • Childline - R20 000

The Smollan Group

  • POWA

Uthingo

  • Ikaya Lethemba - R100 000

Department of Public Enterprises & State-Owned Enterprises

  • POWA Donation of three cellular telephones plus cost of year-long fixed-line telephone expenses to augment POWA's counselling, support and response capacity.
  • Foundation for Human Rights - Sponsorship of Postcards
  • Khanyiselani Development Trust - Funding for the renovation and upgrading of the trust's facilities in Kokstad.

Research Funding

A partnership between Edcon, the interdisciplinary Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit and the Department of Correctional Service has resulted in a R600 000 grant from Edcon to this University of Cape Town medico-legal research unit. Current research projects include investigations into the factors influencing victim decisions to report sexual offences; attrition of rape cases at the investigation and prosecution stages of the criminal justice process; police dereliction of duty in domestic violence cases; provision and compliance with post-exposure prophylaxis regimes for HIV among survivors of sexual assault and patterns of domestic homicide in the Western Cape.

Traditional Leaders

The development of a three-phase Anti-Violence Plan between the House of Traditional Leaders and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was particularly welcome news. So too was the appointment of several traditional leaders as ambassadors for this Anti-violence Plan. These ambassadors have been charged with the popularisation of this plan within the communities to which it is applicable.

Participation by Faith-based Organisations

The development of a Unified Message for the Campaign by the National Forum of Religious Leaders was another welcome development. Furthermore a partnership between the South African Council of Churches (SACC) and the Department of Correctional Service initiated several community/department platforms for joint initiatives. The service at the Grace Bible Church in Soweto on the 4 December, 2005 indicated that there is much room for constructive partnerships between faith-based organisations and government in the context of achieving safer and less violent communities

Participation by men and boys

Increasingly, men's organisations like Men for Change, Men as Partners and the Men's Forum are insisting that the current levels of violence perpetrated against women and children do not occur in their name. This is an extremely encouraging development.

On 9 December, Adv. Bulelani Ngcuka addressed male inmates at Leeuwkop Correctional Centre. He was joined by Putco Mufani, who, having been convicted under the Domestic Violence Act in 1999, is now committed to working with men and boys to change their attitudes and behaviour. Other participants included Commissioner Bafana Khumalo from the Commission for Gender Equality and Mr Tshabalala, an activist for Men for Change. This format was exceedingly well received by the inmates and Nicro. Requests have been made to repeat the sessions on an ongoing basis.

Sporting Constituency

The Department of Sport and Recreation has been instrumental in mobilising the various sporting associations and authorities to put their weight behind Campaign 2005. On the 8 December Orlando Pirates pledged their commitment to the Campaign at a fundraising breakfast in Johannesburg. They also dedicated their efforts in the coming titanic battle between the revered Buccaneers and the ever popular Kaiser Chiefs on the closing day (10 December) of the 16-day Campaign, to the values it espouses and to the eradication of abuse against women and children.

Challenges

The Campaign is but one element of government and civil society's 365-day drive to eradicate gender-based and child-directed violence. It provides a 16-day window for intense awareness-making and education. As such, unrealistic expectations with regard to its ability to reduce levels of women and child abuse should not be harboured.

The Campaign does, however offer us as a national community, an opportunity to evaluate the successful measures that have been implemented and to identify the challenges that continue to blight our service delivery to victims and survivors of violence.

Specific challenges:

  • Reaching a critical mass of South Africans across the language and urban/rural divide;
  • Educating victims in marginalised urban and rural communities about their rights, the ameliorative responses they should expect and assuring them that their plight demands the attention and focus of government and all its civil society partners;
  • Sending a coherent, values-based message to the varied constituencies represented in our multi-lingual, multi-cultural and diverse society;
  • Sensitising the youth to the necessity for changed values, attitudes and behaviours required for achieving the non-sexist, non-racist society we aspire to be;
  • Reminding the national community that violence or even the threat of it - severely compromises the ability of individuals and communities to develop and achieve their full potential;
  • Converting increased levels of awareness into changes in attitudes and changed behaviour
  • Maintaining high levels of awareness of gender violence beyond the 16 Day period.

Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)
12 December 2005

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