16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls.
The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day. It was initiated in 1991 by the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute, held by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers University.
Currently, more than 3,700 organisations from approximately 164 countries participate in the campaign annually. Every year Safe House participates in this global event.
In recent years, the voices of survivors and activists, through campaigns such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, #Niunamenos, #NotOneMore, #BalanceTonPorc and others, have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced any more.
People are starting to understand that while the names and contexts may differ across geographic locations, women and girls everywhere are experiencing extensive abuse and their stories need to be brought to light.
Every year, 16 Days follows a theme and this year the 2018 theme is Orange the World: #HearMeToo
The colour orange will be a key theme unifying all activities, with buildings and landmarks lit and decorated in orange to bring global attention to the initiative.
Under the theme Orange the World: #HearMeToo, the UNiTE partners are encouraged to host events with local, national, regional and global women’s movements, survivor advocates and women human rights defenders and create opportunities for dialogue between activists, policy-makers and the public.
Safe House Participation
L’Abri de Dieu will also make her voice heard by gathering at the Stellenbosch Town Hall. Here we will be showcasing the artwork done by some of our residents of Safe House that highlight their transition from being a victim of domestic violence to being a survivor.
Family violence is a loud crime. It may happen behind closed doors, but our neighbours, family and community members often do know what’s happening. During 16 Days of Activism we want to plead with the people of our community to speak out and be part of the solution to this toxic behaviour.
L’Abrie #WeRise was created so that women can publish their stories.
In South Africa, but also worldwide, Gender Based Violence (GBV) or Violence against women is an everyday, no, an every hour, occurrence. This has a huge influence on the everyday lives of people throughout the country. Much of the behaviour has deep roots stemming from traditions and cultures in today’s society, that have for some, become a normal part of life. Where can these women go when the abuse gets too much? Women’s shelters play an important role in protecting the rights of all women, for aid and protection. The major problem countywide would be the funding desperately needed for these women’s’ shelters.
Some of the reasons for Gender-Based Violence
The reasons for Gender-Based Violence come from many different angles. There are individual, social, relationship and community factors that all play a role. Even though through the years there has been more awareness of the issue, it still remains one of the worst human right violations in the world.
South Africa is no exception, there have been efforts from government, such as the National Council on Gender-Based Violence. This council was formed in 2012 in order to come up with a strategic plan to combat gender-based violence. Ever since then, the organisation has not had any effect due to lack of funding and other political issues. In 2017, there was another call for the formation of a National Strategic Plan to help bring Gender Violence to an end. But has there been any improvement?
It has been found that the funding from the Department for Social Development, is vastly different around the country. Most of the funding towards the facilities and those who work there are very low. The major problem seems to be that there doesn’t seem to be proper communication between all parties involved, which is needed to come up with a workable and successful plan. There are even departments, like Labour trade and Industry that should be brought into the loop. These play an important role when involved in educating, training and providing employment for abused women.
“No women has to be a victim of physical abuse. Women have to feel like they are not alone.” Salma Hayek
Impact of Gender-Based Violence
The impact of Gender-Based Violence doesn’t end with one generation, if nothing is done to stop it, it will carry on into the next generation and the next etc. Whole families and communities are affected. The abuse can lead to drug abuse or another long-term physical and mental problems. This could lead to unemployment and even homelessness.
What are the benefits a women’s shelter can provide?
This is where shelters come into play, helping abused women by protecting them and getting them back on their feet. Many women who are being abused feel they have nowhere to turn, their only way out is a shelter. But these have to be accessible and be able to provide for the needs of these women. Many shelters not only offer refuge for women, but also for their children. The shelter, therefore, needs to be able to provide food and other resources.
Providing this type of service to the community takes dedication on behalf of the staff as well as much needed funding. Some shelters get a percentage of funding from the government, but a lot of the funding also comes from donations. But in order to provide much more than just a temporary safe place, shelters need more funding.
Available services should include:
- Counselling services
- Food and clothing
- Temporary housing
- Skills Development and training
- Court and legal assistance
In order to effectively tackle the issue of gender violence, it has to be approached from many different angles. Commitment has to be shown from the government, civil society and from the very citizens of the country. All must come together in order to expose the issue as well as to develop an effective plan, which will strengthen the response towards the issue. The ideal plan would then be to eradicate gender-based violence within our society.
You can support Safe House and be the change we desperately need.
Acknowledgement: This blog post is based on the two articles below.
Alice Wilton (45) joined the Safe House team at the end of September 2018. Even though this is a busy period for Safe House and she is still setting in, she found the time to tell us a bit more about herself.
What has been the biggest highlight working for Safe House so far?
As a board member we redrafted the constitution of the safe house to align it with my personal belief system, i.e. that dignity can be restored through social justice. We implemented several social justice projects and have seen the impact of it on the women.
Why do you think domestic violence is so rife in South Africa?
Our communities have allowed value systems to be eroded with influences of television. Our children are raised to accept violence as part of everyday life. It has become the “new normal.” Our communities glorify misogynistic and abusive behaviour, in government, business and society in general. Victims suffer secondary abuse by their own community members without consequence. We must rise to make a change.
How can ordinary people make a difference in the lives of the victims at Safe House?
Our communities must speak out against gender based violence. There are not enough SAPS, politicians, prosecutors, etc. to fight the scourge of violence. Our communities must all stand together to fight crime. Giving your time and volunteering is also a great way to make a difference.
What’s the next big fundraising drive at Safe House?
25th of November 2018-16 days of activism
What do you hope to accomplish within the next 6 months?
Create a different business case for the Safe House.
More about Alice…
Hobbies : Reading
Super power : I walk without feeling the bottom of my feet. God “piggy backs” me.
Random fact about yourself : I have one beautiful son.
Most recent book you’ve read: Unstoppable by Christine Caine
It’s that time of the year again, spring, which is a time to clean and clear out the house. This time of the year is also perfect for new beginnings, it doesn’t have to be a New Year’s only thing.
Decluttering and clearing out the closet and the rest of the house, does leave you feeling refreshed. The action of doing something you’ve been meaning to do for ages, gives you that satisfied feeling. So, now you have a heap of things in a box, what to do with it?
All the clothes and items you no longer need might be something somebody else could use. Donating these items can be a great help to charity organisations.
Charitable organisations, such as Safe House, can then give or sell the items to make money or if you feel up to it yourself, you can hold a garage sale and then donate the money to a charity organisation of your choice.
Here are some good reasons you should consider donating:
- By giving your unwanted clothes and items to charity, you are helping to fund the organisation and are making a difference in somebody’s life.
- Do your part to save the environment, only a small percentage of unwanted clothing is donated, the rest lands up on the garbage heap. So instead of throwing your clothes away, think again and donate.
- You may be throwing something out you don’t need anymore, but these items can be a treasure to those who having very little in possessions and clothes.
Looking to donate your clothes, but not sure where to go? Safe House can always use / distribute second hand clothing, especially clothes for women and children – even shoes! Here are more places where you can hand your old clothes in.
Why not take it a step further, and volunteer your time, there are always things that need to be done at a non-profit organisation. You don’t have to go far to volunteer or join a specific organisation, there are many things you can do that could benefit your local community.
Here are a few simple examples:
- Visit an organisation close to your heart,an hour or two of your time can make a huge difference in somebody’s life.
- Clean up litter lying around your community.
- Make up a small food box to hand out to somebody in need on your way to work.
- Know somebody who is sick or can’t get around, help out by offering to do their shopping or some other task they need done.
- Old kids’ books you don’t need anymore, you can donate these to the local library or other organization in need.
- If you simply just don’t have the time, then monetary donations made to your charity of choice, is always welcome.
“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love” Mother Teresa
Volunteering is a way to give back to the community and help those in need, but there are also benefits to those who volunteer. Volunteering doesn’t have to be something that takes over your life, you can give as much time as you can. One or two hours a week can be enough to make a difference in somebody’s life.
Benefits of Volunteering
- You get to feel you are doing something productive and being involved
- Meet new people and make some new friends. Improve your social skills.
- Volunteering can help to reduce stress and keep your mind active
- You can add your volunteer work to your resume and may help to advance your career.
Safe House has three options where you can donate goods, your time or money. There are also websites out there that connect people to causes, like ‘forgood’, where you can donate your time, goods, money and services to any of the listed campaigns.
We’ve had some major changes to the behind the scenes running of Safe House since the start of 2018. It has not been an easy year. It was time to turn over a new leaf and refresh ourselves with a brand new look that gives cognisance to how far we have come, but also to where we are headed in the future.
We wanted our image out there in the world to mean something. We wanted to identify with its symbolism.
Here is some insight into why we now have the logo we do.
Not only does the logo now resonate with the staff of the organisation, but also the women and families we serve with the work we do. We are a shelter of hope, giving our residents a chance to create a new life where the future is bright.
If you would like to become a Friend of Safe House by donating a small monthly amount to help with our running expenses – CLICK HERE.
Find out more about being a Volunteer HERE.
Celebrating Women on a specific day or month is a great thing, it helps to bring awareness to certain important issues relating to women. But the reality is that we should respect and appreciate women every day. The harsh reality is that every day women are exposed to violence and abuse. Women are our mother’s, sister’s or friends, not one of these women should have to suffer in silence or alone.
When it comes around to that time of year again, ‘Women’s Day’, companies and others run campaigns that promote standing together and the upliftment of women. But still every day there are more and more cases of abuse being reported. This awareness should be carried throughout the year, not put back in a box until the following year again. Women should be encouraged to speak out against the violence and abuse. To shine a light on the issue and to not let it remain hidden and in the dark. By ignoring important issues, does not only affect a single women, but ripples out to touch all around her, including the children in families.
“Here’s to Strong Women. May we know Them. May We Be Them. May We raise Them.” Unknown
The best part about women’s day, is that we can celebrate all women, but we can also applaud those women who have achieved success in political, social and economic arenas. We can also commend those women and think about the women who came before us and sometimes sacrificed much so that we can have what we do today.
Ways you can celebrate Women Every Day
Sometimes the most simple things, mean the most. Give an encouraging word, tell the women in your life how much they mean to you and what you love about them. If you want to add some flower or chocolates with that, go ahead, but the words are the most important. One of the lost arts of today, is card making, and I don’t mean via 123greeting.com. Actually taking the time to make something from scratch would mean much more than a quick message on the phone, although these are nice too.
You can support women locally or internationally by making donations to your chosen charity. Make monthly contributions to help abused women or sponsor education to girls who don’t have access to schooling. There is also the option of getting involved by volunteering, doing things like handing out pamphlets or helping to organising relevant events. One of the trends every year to bring awareness to women’s issues, is to participate in run/walk events. This is very popular, fun and something you can do with family and friends.
Get together, ask all your favourite women in your life to invite a friend. In this way you can meet new people, forge new friendships and broaden your social network. Or surprise your wife, sister or friend with something good. Take them out to dinner, make the meal yourself, something special you know they would enjoy. Random acts of kindness are a great way to show appreciation. This involves spending time together, which in today’s society is very difficult for some. Everybody is always in a rush, prioritising the women and others in your life is more important.
In society, women have for many years and are still considered less or weaker, it is time to realise that women are just as strong in their own way and are there to support, nurture and be who they are meant to be. To contribute to society in a way that makes the world a better place.
Kids can also celebrate the women and mom’s in their lives. Here are a few ways to show how much you appreciate your mom.