Whole-of-Society needed to combat Gender Violence
To commemorate #16DaysofActivism, the Minister of Social Development in the Western Cape, Albert Fritz, visited the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children, and the on-site Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network today. These organisations are a testament to how a whole-of-society approach is needed to overcome the social ills in our province and country. For photos, please click here.
The Saartjie Baartman Centre is an innovative shelter, years ahead of its time and unlike any other. It not only provides shelter for abused women, but also for their children. They offer counselling, food and shelter, legal aid, skills development, an on-site substance abuse programme and an Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre for young children. Mothers are also assisted in placing their children at nearby schools. In turn, the Provincial Department of Social Development supports this shelter with its substance abuse, ECD and victim empowerment programmes.
Even though the Saartjie Baartman Centre caters for 120 women and children, and is often fully booked; the centre maintains a policy whereby ‘no woman is turned away’. Once they arrive at the centre, they are provided temporary accommodation and food. They are then assessed in terms of their needs and are referred accordingly.
Located on-site, the Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network supports the Saartjie Baartman Centre by upskilling women in gardening and farming so that once they leave the care of the shelter, they do not have to return to abusive partners for financial support.
MEC Fritz said, “I whole-heartedly commend these organisations for the ground-breaking work they do to empower women. I further commend the communities and volunteers who work tirelessly with these organisations in their campaigns against gender-based violence. We need to build on the innovative and forward-thinking foundations laid by Saartjie Baartman and Mhani Gingi. Women who have had the courage to leave abusive relationships must be empowered and acknowledged for their resilience. We must no longer fixate on victimhood.”
MEC Fritz further added, “I look forward to launching my Girl Child Project next week, which will kick off with a workshop to empower young girls who are currently in foster care.”
The Department of Social Development, under the leadership of Minister Albert Fritz, remains committed to the empowerment of women, which can only be achieved through a whole of society approach.