Civil society takes to the streets to demand a National Strategic Plan to End Gender-Based Violence

Date: November 24, 2014
  • SHARE:

Civil society takes to the streets to demand a National Strategic Plan to End Gender-Based Violence

“NO MORE empty promises, NO MORE unfunded mandates”:Civil society takes to the streets to demand a National Strategic Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. Meanwhile government conducts 16 Days of business as usua

This week across the country, women and men, activists and citizens, will stand up to demand an end to the rape, assault and battery that has plagued our country for too long. In a series of coordinated actions, thousands of South Africans will take to the streets to demand a National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence.

More than 30 civil society organizations are working together to lead marches to the Gauteng Legislature on 25 November, to the Eastern Cape Legislature in Bisho on 27 November and to Parliament in Cape Town on 27 November.

Meanwhile this past Friday 21 November, Minister of Women in Presidency Susan Shabangu kicked off the government’s “16 Days of Activism on Violence Against Women and Children” with more empty promises and announcements of more unfunded mandates. Members of Parliament were asked to light candles and to sign a pledge displayed on a large banner. This “pledge” has no budget, no legal enforcement mechanisms and no clear roadmap. In other words, it has no legitimacy and no chance at producing the change that we so desperately need.

Vuyiseka Dubula, Policy and Advocacy Programme Director at Sonke Gender Justice explained that, “We can no longer afford business as usual. We need a fully costed and funded strategic framework with clear measurable goals. We demand multi-sectoral leadership. Civil society is ready to work with government in creating a national strategic plan.”

Over the last 20 years, South Africa has adopted a range of impressive policies and laws designed to address gender-based violence. Despite this, there has been little impact on the levels of violence against women, children and lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex people. The rate of femicide – that is the violent deaths of women at the hands of intimate partners – remains six times the global average. 40-50% of women report having experienced violence at the hands of a partner and 39% of girls report having undergone some form of sexual violence before they were 18 years old.

As this violence rages on, police are not trained or resourced to follow through on their legal obligations to survivors. The NPA’s specialized Sexual Offences Courts are woefully underfunded and struggling to get off the ground. Civil society organizations, which provide vital support services to survivors, are closing their doors due to lack of funding. As Mara Glennie, Executive Director of TEARS, one of the participating organizations in this week’s actions, explains: “NGOs are frequently being asked to carry out work in responding to gender-based violence that is the responsibility of the state. The state has essentially outsourced many essential statutory services to NGOs but without funding them to do so.”

Implementation of South Africa’s highly progressive laws has been irresponsibly weak. Indeed, many activists now claim that gender-based violence in South Africa represents deadly negligence. The consequences on the lives of women, children and LGBTI people have been dire.
A National Strategic Plan on GBV must dramatically improve and expand these core response and support services. It must also create a research-based fully-funded violence prevention agenda. According to a recent KPMG study, gender-based violence costs South Africa up to R42 billion per year. Yet we know from studies in the UK that for every $1 invested in prevention, the state saved $6 on response services. In other words, we can’t afford not to make this investment now.
The current state of gender-based violence represents one of the country’s worst service delivery crises. It is also a matter of our most basic human rights and the state’s Constitutional obligations. According to Charlene May of the Legal Resources Centre, “Government has a Constitutional obligation to address gender based violence in a strategic, coordinated and funded manner. Women in South Africa’s Constitutional rights to dignity, equality and to be free from violence continues to be violated as long as there is no national strategic plan to address gender based violence.”
When citizens rose up to demand a fully-funded National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS – as a tool to end denial and opacity in responding to an epidemic that was claiming scores of lives each day at its peak-the government listened. The HIV/AIDS NSP has been a powerful tool to garner the political commitment and funding required to tackle AIDS. There is no reason why the same cannot be done in addressing gender-based violence. Like AIDS, GBV is a large social challenge that require a coordinated response among diverse stakeholders, political will at the highest levels of society, and significant resource allocation to ensure that the programs that work at community level are funded at scale.

In her speech to Parliament on Friday, Minister of Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu announced that the Ministry would conduct provincial dialogues in order to better understand the causes and consequences of poverty and inequality, to develop a research agenda and to inform the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence.

While we welcome this public re-commitment to the currently stalled and ill-defined NSP process, we emphasize that not just any plan will do. We need a National Strategic Plan that:
– Creates real accountability through clear institutional arrangements with clear measurable commitments [preferably through an independent multisectoral Council]
– Is fully costed and commits significant new resources
– Is developed through an open, inclusive and consultative process.
We know the nature of the problem. We know what kind of prevention and response services are required. What we need now is a fully costed national plan to realize the change we know is possible. Thousands will march this week to say clearly and loudly: No more Violence. No more empty promises. No more unfunded mandates. NSP Now.

Media Contacts

Gauteng/Joburg (25 November): Jabu Tugwana, POWA,; Katie Bollbach, Sonke Gender Justice,, 0738647044

Pietermaritzburg/KZN (25 November): Thulani Mthalane, PACSA,

Eastern Cape/Bhiso action (27 November): Vuyokazi Matiso, Treatment Action Campaign,

Western Cape/Cape Town action (27 November): Vuyiseka Dubula, Sonke Gender Justice, , 082 763 3005


Download : CapeTown GBV NSP March invite
Download : Johannessburg GBV NSP March invite

Comment on Civil society takes to the streets to demand a National Strategic Plan to End Gender-Based Violence

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *