Women’s Month: Minister Fernandez encourages women to uplift one another
This Women’s Month, it's important to acknowledge the efforts of courageous women across our communities, who are contributing to positive change and encouraging other women and young girls to do the same.
The Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez said, “We are successful in our efforts to promote gender equality and tackle other pertinent issues of social injustice when we work together.”
Minister Fernandez added, “It is important that we redefine our general understanding of inequality. I’m in full agreement with the sentiments shared in an article published by the World Economic Forum in which, the CEO of Barefoot International, Meagan Fallone states: Inequality is not about who has more; it’s about my ability to reach my aspirations, whatever they are, with the same lack of resistance along the way.”
Minister Fernandez continued, “As we enter Women’s Month, let us take the time to remind our sisters and all young girls that we can accomplish anything we set out to achieve.”
As a caring government, the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD), has a number of services and interventions for women and young girls, that seek to remove barriers. These include:
Victim support programmes:
The Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP) aims to support victims and survivors of crime and violence, including Gender Based Violence as well as their families, to deal with the impact of the trauma, which he/she has experienced.
The Department of Social Development Victim Empowerment Programme, supported by service providers in the Western Cape offers a variety of services to support victims which include:
• ensuring that victims receive emotional and practical support,
• assisting victims with the management of trauma,
• ensuring that victims are educated to identify the symptoms of post-traumatic stress,
• referring victims to professional services where necessary,
• provision of court support services during the criminal justice process is dealt with efficiently,
• promoting the rights and responsibilities of victims through advocacy,
• ensuring that victims are aware of their rights,
• ensuring that ongoing victimisation is prevented and
• providing a shelter service.
The provincial Department of Social Development is currently funding 20 shelters in the Western Cape that can accommodate victims and their children up to 3 months, and 4 emergency shelters that accommodate victims up to 3 weeks.
Shelters provide for basic needs that include: safe accommodation, protection, food, clothing and emotional support such as trauma debriefing and therapeutic counselling provided by a social worker. To assist with reintegration, victims are also provided with skills development opportunities to assist with the economic empowerment of the victim.
Empowerment of the victim starts from the point of admission at the shelter, where the victim’s needs will be assessed including whether the victim has a permanent place of stay. The assessment report will influence the services or interventions conducted with the victims.
Sanitary Dignity Project:
The provincial Department of Social Development has plans in place to embark on the distribution of sanitary pads to school across the province - when the first phase of learners at schools are scheduled to be back.
It is widely understood that outside the family setting, schools are the most important places of learning for children. Thus, the provision of sanitary resources at schools where there is the greatest need, will play a meaningful role in ensuring that these spaces are stimulating learning environments for female learners.
The key objective of the project is to address sanitary dignity, also referred to as menstrual hygiene management (MHM), in a holistic, integrated and co-ordinated way. The persons who stand to benefit from the implementation of the Sanitary Dignity Project are indigent women and girls who have reached puberty, commenced menstruation and who attend schools ranked at quintile 1, 2 or 3 with the option of expanding to quintiles 4 and 5, based on the results of a needs assessment and availability of resources. Furthermore, it was decided that the project should prioritize schools in rural areas and include special needs schools.
This project is targeting up to 90 000 female learners across the Province.
“Let us join hands as women. Let us continue to uplift and empower one another, so that we can rise and ensure that the future of the world is a better place,” concluded Minister Fernandez.