Mindset Change about Gender-Based Violence Will Liberate Women and Men

Article excerpt

BYLINE: Mamphela Ramphele

There is a cruel irony in that our society as one of the few countries in the world, and in Africa, that made gender equality a constitutional requirement for social relationships, stands accused as a country with one of the worst track records of violence against women and children.

Every year we launch 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence without reviewing the effectiveness of such campaigns in the light of experiences of ordinary women and children on the ground. We need to challenge the notion that a succession of presidents can launch this international campaign as a calendar ritual without being held to account about their role as head of the government to put in place mechanisms to eradicate this shameful practice in our society.

Citizens should insist on holding this government accountable for the promises of effective caring policing; effective judicial systems and creating safe and secure spaces for citizens to live, to walk and for our children to play in.

Rampant gender-based violence over the last 20 years is one of the many examples of the betrayal of the values of our constitution that so many of us as freedom fighters dedicated ourselves to.

Women have throughout history proven to be effective change agents. This applies more specifically to transformational change in the mindset of society. Our social relationships continue to be governed by male dominance and traditional assumptions about the roles of men and women. The changes brought about by the end of apartheid, the inter-linkages within the global community and the role of social and other media in exposing people to alternative lifestyles, force us to confront the need for mindset change in our society.

South Africa desperately needs mind-set change. Women need to understand that the most powerful weapon of abusive men is the mind of the abused woman. The day women refuse to permit abuse is the day abuse will stop. But women need to stand together to reinforce the resolve to end abuse. Just like the women of 1956 who marched against all odds, solidarity is key. It is possible for us to make abuse history if we stand together

But just as black consciousness liberated not only black people but white people as well, mindset change toward gender equality will liberate women and men. Sisonke and the Million Men March are initiatives that open the way for collaboration between men and women to stop violence and abuse of women and children and other vulnerable people. …