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Civil Society Watch, 22-26 June 2020

Civil Society Watch, 22-26 June 2020
In virtual gatherings, the Budget Justice Coalition hopes to collectively interrogate budget policies that serve to deepen inequality in South Africa. (Photo: AdobeStock)

A weekly feature to inform readers of a cross-section of events organised by civil society organisations.

Civil society organisations play an undeniably significant role in fighting injustices like poverty and inequality. They have to be imaginative in their innovations in the quest to work towards a better world. 

At the start of each week, Maverick Citizen attempts to gauge the civil society environment. We do this by combing through emails, WhatsApp groups, and submissions from those who kindly inform us of the continuous renewal of the inner workings of your communities.

With several virtual talks by experts in their field, and one hosted by children, this week’s thought-provoking features are sure to leave you inspired.

On Monday 22 June and Tuesday 23 June, the Budget Justice Coalition is hosting virtual gatherings with 50 participants from various backgrounds, themed “Public spending for the people: pre- and post-Covid-19”. Through this event, the coalition is hoping to create a dialogue space for civil society and diverse social movements. In addition to fostering knowledge sharing, the Budget Justice Coalition hopes to collectively interrogate budget policies that serve to deepen inequality in South Africa.

Priority will be given to grassroots organisations, groups that promote intersectionality and groups that represent communities composed of black women, LGBTQI+, people living with disabilities, and other marginalised communities. You can email the event organiser should you wish to participate. 

On Tuesday 23 June you can join the MenEngage Africa Alliance and Sonke Gender Justice in a webinar on the impact of Covid-19 and the prevalence of sexual gender-based violence among refugees and migrants.

Leader Kanyiki Ngooyo, a nursing scientist and counselling and communications expert, will be speaking about the experiences of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in urban settings during the pandemic.

Managa Alain, the executive director of Vision Santé, will be talking about the psychological effects of Covid-19 and sexual gender-based violence on refugees in camps and urban areas.

Laura Buffoni, a member of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), will be discussing the UNHCR’s activities to address the challenges of Covid-19 and sexual gender-based violence in the SADC region in camps and urban areas.

Last, Linda Kavira, the coordinator of MenEngage DRC, will speak on the impact of Covid-19 on economic and social assistance for refugees during lockdown. 

On Wednesday 24 June, Media Monitoring Africa is partnering with a number of organisations, including UNICEF and the Agape Youth Movement, to bring you a webinar where school children will be discussing solutions to address the increasing racism that learners face in schools across South Africa. 

Racism is still a reality in 2020. With June being a month to honour the 1976 learners who protested against a racist regime and fought for their rights to quality education in a language of their choice, a talk on the prevalence of racism in schools could not come at a better time. Register here.

On the same day, the Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education is hosting a webinar with a captivating theme: “Resisting police repression, rethinking public safety: voices from the US, Kenya, and South Africa.” 

Speakers include Thenjiwe McHarris (US), a strategist with the movement for Black Lives Matter, Juliet Wanjira (Kenya), the co-founder of the Mathcare Social Justice Centre, and Axolile Notywala (South Africa), the general secretary of the Social Justice Coalition.

The webinar will be streamed live on Facebook at 16:00.

On Wednesday 24 June and Thursday 25 June, the African Union (AU) and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Africa will be holding a two-day virtual conference to discuss Africa’s leadership role in Covid-19 vaccine development and access.

Under the leadership of Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission, the conference will bring together experts from the medical community, researchers, civil society, and leaders of industry to explore this topic and help develop a framework for Covid-19 vaccine development and access in Africa. 

Speakers include President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the current chairperson of the AU, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) director-general, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, executive director of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima, and director of the CDC Africa, Dr John Nkengasong.

You can register here for the conference. 

On Thursday 25 June join the People’s Health Movement and the Sama Resource Group for Women and Health for an online panel discussion titled, “Not in lockdown: voices and struggles against gender, racial, and social injustices.”

Moderated by Sarah Hossain, the panel will focus on the stories and experiences of those who have felt social injustices resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Leigh Haynes from the United States will discuss racism, violence, and repression in the US during the pandemic. A talk on the Covid-19 crisis in conflict settings will be given by Shatha Odeh from Palestine, with a particular focus on gender discussions from Palestine. Sarojini N from India will focus on the pandemic and solidarity in India. 

Bringing it closer to home, the need to understand gender barriers to accessing health in East Africa will be covered by Peninha Khisa from Kenya.

On Friday 26 June, Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACAU) is hosting a Zoom webinar titled, “At the mine gate: discussions with mining affected communities.” 

Speakers include Dr Asanda Benya, a senior lecturer at the University of Cape Town, ANC veteran Ronnie Kasrils, activist Tokelo Mahlakoane, and feminist warrior Millicent Shungube.  

You can register here if you are interested in reflections on 65 years of the Freedom Charter and four years of the People’s Mining Charter.

On the same day you can join the University of the Witwatersrand’s Society, Work, and Political Institute (SWOP) for a webinar on “Covid testing is just like bloodsucking: a critical analysis of bloodsuckers vigilante violence in Malawi”, by Daniel Kabunduli Nkhata of the Catholic University of Malawi.

By drawing on his own extensive work on the topic, Nkhata will be offering a critical analysis of the rise of “bloodsucker violence” – a form of vigilante protest that targets frontline workers in Malawi. 

Nkhata will also reflect on the socio-economic, socio-political and socio-cultural elements of the vigilante violence and how these relate to the management and “mismanagement” of Covid-19 in Malawi. MC

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