Public encouraged to promote gender equality and build safer communities
In commemoration of Women’s Month, the Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, is paying tribute to all those women and men who continue to play a role in promoting gender equality and helping build safer communities for women.
“The promotion of pertinent issues affecting women should not be limited to one month of the year but must be a focused approach 356 days a year,
The high levels of gender-based violence, coupled with the social injustices women bear witness to, must come to a stop. In order to effectively address gender-based violence, we need the whole of society – including men, governments, corporates, employees and civil society – to support us in our fight, to promote a gender-equitable society and commit to playing a role in eliminating the social injustices women experience!” said Minister Fernandez.
The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD), offers several services and interventions for women and young girls. These include:
Preventative programmes to protect women:
The DSD’s Victim Empowerment Programme funds service organisations to conduct Gender-Based Violence (GBV) educational workshops in communities, with a special focus on men and youth. These workshops aim to address a range of factors that lead to GBV. Topics include understanding how patriarchal norms promotes violence, power and control, reinforcing positive expression of masculinity, gender equality and addressing the needs of victimisation of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The workshops also focus on empowering women to understand legislation and their rights, facilitating access to the justice system and most importantly identification of resources in the community.
Economic empowerment programs are offered in GBV shelters to promote the economic independence of women who leave abusive partners.
The Department also funds court-ordered diversion programmes for perpetrators of GBV e and their victims on a tertiary prevention level to avert reoccurrences of criminal activities and to empower their victims:
Programmes for the Perpetrator and Victim
- Restorative Group Conferencing (RGC), Victim Offender Mediation (VOM) and Family Group Conferencing: a mediated intervention, consisting of individual assessment, psycho-social counselling (individual and joint), after-care support
Programme for Victims:
- The SHINE Victim Empowerment Programme: a post-traumatic growth and empowerment programme for female victims who were emotionally and/or physically abused In addition, victims are seen individually focussing on post-trauma intervention, conducted as a group and individual sessions
Programme for Perpetrators:
- Silence the Violence Programme and the Programme for Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Violence (PPIPV): intensive specialised programmes, based on Cognitive-behaviour modification principles to equip the participant with the tools to understand and manage violent behaviour
- Substance Abuse: provide psycho-social-emotional education around substance use disorders (SUDs) and the consequences of their behaviour and referrals for more long-term and intensive treatment options
Shelters for GBV victims:
The provincial DSD is currently funding 25 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 provision of sanitary products to female learners will continue. We remain aware that more work is needed to fully understand the stigma associated with menstruation, to effectively break the silence, and to advance work towards the realisation of women’s rights and an understanding of gender equality that enables women to succeed.
As of 18 June 2021, a total of 736 272 packets of ten sanitary pads were delivered to approximately 109 845 female learners in 220 schools across the Western Cape through the project.
“We welcome that the Sanitary Dignity Project (SDP) has grown to accommodate an additional 19 845 female learners since the project first commenced in 2019. Thus, we will continue to honour the dignity and wellbeing of as many female learners as we can through this great initiative.
I would like to thank the many individuals and organisations, who continue to donate essential sanitary resources to those in need, and in doing so, helping us in our fight to address the plight of impoverished female learners who cannot properly manage their menses every month whilst attending school.
Let us join hands as a society to uplift and empower women, in our fight to promote a safer and gender-equitable world,” concluded Minister Fernandez.
For more information about our other services, please refer to the Western Cape Department’s Website below:
Joshua Covenant Chigome
Spokesperson for the Minister of Social Development, Minister Sharna Fernandez
Tel: 021 483 9217
Cell: 083 661 4949