Source: President of South Africa –
4 February 2021 – 12:00am
United Nations Resident Coordinator, Dr Nardos Bekele-Thomas,
Founder of the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative, Mr Forest Whitaker,
Members of the International Women’s Forum of South Africa, Judy Dlamini and Irene Charnley
Representatives of Business Unity South Africa, the Black Business Council and Business for South Africa,
Our partners from the private sector and the philanthropic community and Representatives of Civil Society,
Women and girls of South Africa
Fellow South Africans,
The launch today of the first phase of the Private Sector Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Response Fund fulfils a promise we made to the women and children of this country.
It was a promise to work together to end the violence perpetrated by men against women and children in our country.
Three years ago, at the Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, we started out on the road that has brought us to this point.
At the Summit, delegates from government, business, labour and civil society pledged to work together to address the devastating impact of violence on the lives of millions of South African women and children.
Last year, we unveiled the National Strategic Plan – the NSP – which was developed by a multisectoral team from across society.
The NSP outlines interventions to provide support to survivors and their families and to broaden access to justice; to drive societal change through awareness-raising and prevention campaigns; to strengthen existing programmes to fight GBVF; and to broaden access to economic opportunities for women.
While the government and its partners have made important progress in starting to implement the National Strategic Plan, we are in a constrained financial climate.
We have had to urgently divert national resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and, like every other area of work, this has had an impact on our gender-based violence and femicide programmes.
Nonetheless, we continue to prioritise the empowerment of women in all our programmes.
We have allocated nearly R21 billion over the three years of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework to support all six pillars of the NSP.
I have also received a report detailing the expenditure associated with GBV-related programmes in every government department.
These include prevention campaigns, measures to address GBV in higher learning institutions, the inclusion of women in science and technology, support services, access to housing and shelter for survivors, economic empowerment of women and strengthening the criminal justice system.
Government departments will be held accountable for the work they do and for the resources that have been committed.
I want to assure you, therefore, that before asking you to commit resources, we are committing our own.
Gender-based violence and femicide impacts us all and requires collective action.
Gender-based violence has social, psychological, financial, health, educational, political and security effects, to name but a few.
Its effects are insidious, extreme, inter-generational and long-lasting; not just on victims and survivors but also on society.
But by far the most significant cost is to our very nationhood.
When millions of our citizens have to live in fear from violence and even death simply because they are women or girls, a part of our soul as a people is lost.
Gender-based violence and femicide is not a secondary priority. It is not a women’s issue.
Gender-based violence is overwhelmingly and unequivocally a human rights issue.
Your presence here today demonstrates your understanding that we all have to become involved to bring an end to gender-based violence.
With your financial support, we will be able to step up the national response to GBV by expanding the scope of services at national, provincial and community levels.
We can increase our support to community-based organisations that are doing such valuable work in our villages, towns and cities and that rely on donor funding to survive.
The mechanisms of the Fund were explained by the speakers who came before me.
I want to reiterate that the Fund will be managed and administered under the strictest principles of good governance, due diligence, transparency and accountability.
As we launch this Fund, I would like to acknowledge and appreciate the contribution by Anglo-American of R30 million, the contribution by ABSA of R20 million and the contribution just announced by the Ford Foundation of R20 million.
These contributions will make a great difference in the lives of many people. They reflect the true commitment of these valued partners to building a better society.
I want to thank the many partners who have come on board to assist us with its establishment, and in particular the International Women’s Forum of South Africa for driving the process.
I also want to thank those companies that have offered their services pro bono to assist with the financial and audit aspects.
We want to acknowledge ENS Africa, PWC, Deloitte, Alexander Forbes, and Absa for all they have done in this regard.
This week, South Africa will hand over the reins of the African Union Chairship to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It has been a challenging year in which many of the priorities we set for our term of office have had to take a back seat as we responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have nevertheless made progress in a number of areas relating to gender-based violence and the financial inclusion of women.
We convened a successful webinar on the ratification of ILO Convention 190 on ending violence and harassment in the workplace
We joined the UN’s Generation Equality Forum and participated in advocacy around GBV and women’s financial inclusion
We also lobbied for gender-responsive trade policies to be developed as part of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
As a country, South Africa has adopted a policy of 40% preferential public procurement for women-owned enterprises, and we are promoting a minimum target of 30% for the region
The launch of this Fund today is testament to the strength and power of social partnership.
It has been a long and challenging road, but we have laid the cornerstone.
This is just the beginning, and we are confident that the pledging process will continue into this year as more of our partners in the private sector and international philanthropies come on board.
Since the advent of democracy in South Africa, the business and donor communities have been our dependable developmental partners.
I am keenly aware that you have many competing demands on your money, especially during the pandemic.
This is about so much more than philanthropy or corporate social responsibility.
It is about making a solid investment in a South Africa that is truly egalitarian, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, prosperous and free.
I thank you for your presence this afternoon and thank all those who have made this event possible.
Let us now focus on the task at hand and work together to realise a society that is free of gender-based violence, of femicide, and of violence in all its forms.
I thank you.