Minister Fernandez calls on society to prioritise women, 365 days of the year | Western Cape Government

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Minister Fernandez calls on society to prioritise women, 365 days of the year

31 August 2021

“As Women's Month draws to a close, I call upon all citizens to act swiftly in addressing the many concerns and injustices women face in this Province and South Africa, 365 days of the year!

Women have a right to equality in all spheres of life - we need to be intentional in addressing the many challenges women face daily in this Province.

No longer can we sit in silence and when women continue to be affected by gender-based violence, inequality, patriarchy, poverty and unemployment.

Together, we can eliminate outdated social norms that treat women as second-class citizens and address the structural barriers that continue to hinder gender equity from becoming a reality. We must not limit the focus to Women’s day or Women’s Month, but 365 Days of the year!” said the Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez.

The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) offers several services and interventions for women and young girls all year round. These include, amongst others;

Preventative programmes to protect women:

The DSD's Victim Empowerment Programme funds service organisations to conduct educational workshops on GBV in communities, focusing 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 identifying resources in the community.

Economic empowerment programs are offered in GBV shelters to promote women's financial independence, especially for those women wanting to leave abusive partners.

The Department also funds court-ordered diversion programmes for perpetrators of GBV 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), aftercare support

Programme for Victims:

• The SHINE Victim Empowerment Programme: a post-traumatic growth and empowerment programme for female victims of emotionally and physically abuse. These victims are offered individual support, focusing 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. 

Shelters for GBV victims:

The provincial DSD is currently funding 25 shelters in the Western Cape that can accommodate victims and their children for up to three months and four emergency shelters that accommodate victims for three weeks.

Shelters provide basic needs that include; safe accommodation, protection, food, clothing and emotional support such as trauma debriefing and therapeutic counselling provided by a social worker. The victims are also provided with skills development opportunities to assist with the economic empowerment of the victim to assist with reintegration into society.

Empowerment of the victim starts from the point of admission at the shelter, where the victim's needs are assessed, including whether the victim has a permanent place of stay. The assessment report will influence the services or interventions conducted with the victims.

Substance abuse treatment and care for women available:

Services offered by the Department and its NPO partners for women include, amongst others:

• Awareness, primary prevention, early intervention, aftercare services;

• Specialized services for victims of gender-based violence. Female service users can also be admitted with their minor children for the duration of their treatment. 

• Specialized treatment for adolescent girls between 13 and 17 years of age, at funded inpatient treatment centres; 

• Residential or Inpatient Treatment centres and non-residential outpatient (also known as community-based) treatment centres for women;

• Reintegration and aftercare support;

• School-based programs at identified high-risk schools aimed at early detection and appropriate interventions for young females involved in substance abuse.

Sanitary Dignity Project:  

The provision of sanitary products to female learners will continue. We remain aware that more work is needed to entirely understand the stigma associated with menstruation and break the silence required to realise women's rights.

"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:

Media Enquiries: 

Joshua Covenant Chigome

Spokesperson for the Minister of Social Development, Minister Sharna Fernandez

Tel: 021 483 9217

Cell: 083 661 4949