Masimanyane Executive Director Dr Lesley Ann Foster urged legislative and policy reform that moves South Africa from a victim-centred approach to violence against women and girls to prevention focused strategies.
Dr Foster was addressing the Women's Charter Review Conference hosted by the National Assembly, which is being held to assess progress since the adoption of the ANC Women's Charter in 1954 and the national Women's Charter for Effective Equality of 1994.
The conference will serve as a launching pad to engage women across all sectors of society on the most pertinent challenges still facing women today. These inputs will culminate in adoption of a contextually relevant Women’s Charter in March 2019.
The all-day session focused on, among other topics of discussion, equality, law and the administration of justice, health and social services, advancing inclusive economic growth, development and infrastructure, violence against women and education, training and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Stakeholders expected to participate in the review include Members of Parliament, Members of the Executive, Institutions Supporting Democracy, Local Government and civil society organisations.
"The biggest challenge (with regard to violence against women and girls) is the shift from gender equality to a gender neutral approach," Dr Foster told a breakaway session of the conference.
"We must shift away from a victim-centred approach to a prevention approach. Analysis must go deeper so that our policies align with the focus on prevention"
She also called for extensive country-wide programmes that address gender inequality and gives us an agreed value system that ensures the human rights of men and women, boys and girls."
"You cannot legislate for change, so we need countrywide programmes to change the value system and the morality and ethics of our entire society, so that the status of women changes to a respect for their dignity and their human rights."
Listen to the full submission HERE:
Some of the more tangible outcomes expected from the conference include:
Creating a platform to report back on the status of women in South Africa, with particular reference to processing resolutions coming from Women’s Parliament events hosted during the fifth Parliament; and
Review and adoption of a thematically relevant women’s charter, which will thematically focus on the advancement and implementation of the most catalysing policy imperatives, to accelerate vast improvements in women’s quality of life. The reviewed charter will also take into consideration common issues, which women have raised since the inception of sector parliaments in 2004.
The newly adopted Women’s Charter will underpin the work of the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus in the sixth Parliament, as a guiding manuscript and mandate to meaningfully accelerate the women’s transformation agenda.