Beyond Stereotypes: Broadening our understanding of GBV
16 Days of Activism For No Violence Against Women and Children may start next week, but the Western Cape Government (WCG) is not waiting to have critical solutions-focused discussions.
We believe in a 365-day approach, one where we do not tire of finding ways to protect vulnerable children and women, while seeking sustainable solutions. Besides going into communities to engage with residents, we realise the importance of looking inward.
Since 2021, Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez has been engaging staff and officials in quarterly “Courageous Conversations”. This series is a key platform in strengthening collaboration, co-ordination, and effectiveness of the WCG’s efforts to address Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
The last webinar for 2023, held on 15 November, was hosted by Premier Alan Winde and Minister Fernandez, and facilitated by Process Facilitator Dr Rama Naidu. The panelists have decades worth of expertise between them: Professor Lukas Muntingh, Dullah Omar Institute director; Professor Amiena Peck, a sociolinguist; Professor Joelien Pretorius, head of the University of the Western Cape’s Political Studies Department.
The theme was “Beyond stereotypes towards a broader understanding of GBV.” Panelists unpacked the structure of violence, the power of language, power dynamics and the prison system’s role in the cycle of violence.
“These conversations are one pathway to getting the desired results when it comes to standing against GBV. This discussion makes me think what are those structural systems that we need to look at, to make the Western Cape Government a great organisaiotn to work at. We need to have a look at the hierarchies because we know that uneven power dynamics can create an ecosystem where abuse happens. We also need to ask whether the interventions we currently have are effective in producing the results we need when it comes to violence prevention. These are the questions we keep asking ourselves and our citizens. We cannot keep doing the same things over and over. Change is often necessary when it comes to addressing issues like GBV,” said Premier Winde.
“These Courageous Conversations are crucial to helping us do introspection as government. It makes us ask ‘How do I show up authentically to make a difference and make sure I treat every person with dignity, respect, and care?’ It challenges our preconceived notions, but also empowers us with knowledge. We need to feel encouraged to speak up without fear of victimization. We are all responsible for creating peaceful spaces, free of abuse and violence, whether in our places of work or at home. Let us lead by example,” said Minister Fernandez.
The next Courageous Conversation will resume early next year.