South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday called on South Africans to drive fundamental change in societal attitudes that allow sexism, chauvinism and patriarchy to thrive.
Ramaphosa was writing in his weekly column to the nation ahead of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign which kicks off on Wednesday.
Ramaphosa admitted that despite efforts by international and local governments, gender-based violence was still a constant in the lives of millions of women and girls worldwide.
“Despite the groundswell of public support for this campaign and many others like it, we are still unfortunately a long way from realising a world free of sexism, discrimination and violence against women and girls. The reality is that legislative and policy measures instituted by governments cannot alone rid us of this problem,” he said.
He urged South Africans, in the spirit of mutual respect and partnership, to make this year’s 16 Days of Activism campaign one that was impactful and one that made a difference.
He acknowledged the work being done by shelter volunteers, police station victim support offices and rape-crisis centres, as well as housemothers and managers in care centres.
He went on to thank social workers, counsellors, sponsors, rehabilitation professionals and everyday South Africans who have opened their homes to the abused.
THE ECONOMIC COST OF GBV
According to a 2017 study, gender-based violence in South Africa costs the country between R28-billion and R42.4-billion a year. This includes the social services, shelter and health care needed to respond effectively to gender-based violence.
“Beyond its devastating effects on the health, safety and well-being of women and girls, this insidious problem has significant social, political and economic impacts. Individuals and families bear the greatest proportion of costs – from reduced income to replacement of broken property, to transportation to seek care or attend trial. Furthermore, the productivity of women in abusive relationships is also negatively affected,” Ramaphosa explained.
He said eradicating gender-based violence was not only a moral and human rights imperative but also key to the country’s developmental potential.