South Africa: Awards encourage gender champions to keep fighting

South Africa: Awards encourage gender champions to keep fighting

Date: June 25, 2015
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Johannesburg, 25 June: The South Africa Gender Protocol@Work Summit came to jubilant and celebratory close last night at the Kopanong Hotel and Conference Centre, after Gender Links awarded drivers of change for their work in advancing gender equality.

Mariatu Fonnah- Gender Links Governance and Economic Justice Manager welcomed all attends and started the ceremony requested that everyone stand for a moment of silent to honour the youth of South Africa who lost their lives fighting for justice and equality during th Soweto uprisings in June 1976.

In her speech, Fazia Abrahams-Smith from the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism shared the findings of the 2014 Media Landscape Report. She encouraged people and organizations to utilise community media to get their voices and concerns heard in all the many official languages, not just English. “As a society we censor ourselves, we are afraid to speak, afraid to criticize certain departments,” adding that people must stand up for their rights and ensure accountability.

Mfanezwelo Shozi Chairperson of the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE), was the keynote speaker, said that educating people about gender equality in South Africa remains crucial for the cause. He emphasized the need for government to them to develop and implement a sustained campaign to end gender based violence (GBV), which persists unabated in South Africa.

Each judge gave remarks about the categories they judged and congratulated each participant for the great work they are doing, despite lacking resources to help achieve equality and advance women’s rights. They encouraged gender champions to keep up the fight, but shared advice to improve their presentations in the future.

Polokwane Municipality won the best Local Government Centre of Excellence (COE), Jeanette Manamela, gender focal person at Polokwane Municipality said, “Getting the award is a great motivation for us and now our main aim is to back and apply what we have learnt here and tackle issues concerning GBV as it is still high in our communities”. Jeanette says she hopes to ensure that the municipality put a budget aside for gender mainstreaming activities.

Shaheema McLeod, Director of the Saartijie Baartmen Centre for Women and Children, who scooped the GBV award thanked GL for the Summit and the award adding, “I was absolutely surprised, I came to the summit to network, winning was just a bonus.” Ntshagoema Henley Mothapo who received a runner up award said the summit motivate him to continue his fight for gender justice.

Although not all participants won awards, GL gave a certificate of participation to show appreciation and to encourage all drivers of change to keep up the fight, now and post 2015.
Ntombi Mbadlanyana, South Africa Country Manager at Gender Links said the summit was a huge success, saying “I can’t wait for the Regional Summit in Gaborone in August. That summit will be very important as it runs parallel to the SADC Heads of State Summit, where the Gender Protocol Alliance will be pushing SADC governments to review the SADC Gender Protocol.”

This article is part of the Gender Links News Service special coverage of the SADC Gender Protocol Summits underway across the region, offering fresh views on everyday news.


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