Covid-19

Maverick Citizen

Civil Society Watch, 6 – 11 July 2020

This week, civil society groups are hosting a range of webinars, virtual conferences, and an exciting virtual book theatre series. Human rights take the stage with education rights and the rights of sex workers being highlighted organisations.

The 23rd International AIDS Conference – AIDS 2020 – kicks off this week with the theme of Resilience. With a diverse selection of presentations throughout the week, conference speakers include the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO chief scientist, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, and infectious disease specialist Martina Pennazato. The AIDS 2020 conference will take place from Monday 6 July until Thursday 9 July; the WHO has dedicated Friday 10 July and Saturday 11 July for discussions on Covid-19.

On Tuesday 7 July and Wednesday 8 July, you are invited to join the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) for virtual sessions with the standing committee on Democratisation Governance and Human Rights. The theme: Towards accelerated domestication of the SADC model law on elections – the role of the SADC PF and national parliaments in promoting electoral and transitional justice in southern Africa.

On Wednesday 8 July, the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies (SCIS) is hosting its third episode in a series of podcasts titled Encounters with Covid. The series looks at the intersection between inequality and Covid-19 as well as attempts to explain the various ways to fund the proposed socio-economic package.

The mini-series is hosted by activist Shaeera Kalla. This week, Michael Sachs (University of the Witwatersrand adjunct Professor and former Budget Office Treasury) will discuss the financial options people have during this tough socio-economic climate. The podcast will be streamed live on Twitter.

At 12:00, join Daily Maverick senior journalist Greg Nicolson in conversation with former Johannesburg Mayor and founder of The People’s Dialogue, Herman Mashaba, as they discuss Mashaba’s new book The Accidental Mayor, his fallout with the DA and the future of coalition politics in South Africa.

On the same day, the Asijiki Coalition is hosting a zoom webinar, titled Sex workers rights vs Covid-19, with the aim to highlight and discuss the rights of sex workers during the Covid-19 pandemic and to converse on new ways to move to decriminalising sex work.

The event is being facilitated by Ishtar Lakhan from the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task Force (SWEAT) and speakers include Duduzile Dlamini (SWEAT), Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng (Commission for Gender Equality), Skye Washington (Human Rights Watch), Kholi Buthelezi (Sisonke), Chriscy Blouws (Women’s Legal Centre), and Brenda Modisa (Federation of Unions of South Africa representative).

You can RSVP to this event by emailing the organisers.

On Thursday 9 July, independent South African publisher, Jacana Media, is hosting a virtual book theatre series called Don’t Shut Up. This week’s topic is: Can we condone the deployment of the military and police brutality in the townships?

Ronnie Kasrils, freedom fighter, activist, author and former Deputy Minister of Defence and Minister for Intelligence Services, Zak Yacoob, anti-apartheid activist and former Justice of the Constitutional Court, and Trevor Manuel, former Minister of Finance, will converse and examine this military deployment and the killing of Collin Khosa from three points of view; Kasrils coming at it with his background of the Department of Defence, Zak Yacoob tackling the issue from a perspective of justice, and Trevor Manuel challenging the issue from the position of its constitutionality. The discussion will be moderated by Dr Sithembile Mbete, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria.

As the publisher puts it, Jacana authors are “independent thinkers, searching for the unusual and the unsaid. Some shout and some whisper, but always they have something vital to say. They won’t shut up.” You can register for the virtual event here.

At 11:00, join the Foundation for Human Rights for the online launch of the Community Advice Offices (CAO) survey, Human rights diagnosis: CAO and Covid-19. Opening remarks will be delivered by Ambassador Riina Kionka, head of the European Union Delegation to South Africa.

Speakers include Judge Navi Pillay, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, John Jeffery, Deputy Minister of Justice, and Dr Fikile Vilakazi, Covid-19 People’s Coalition

On the same day, the Call to Action Collective is launching the first of 12 webinars (to be hosted weekly) in a series that will provide information on the government’s National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NSP-GBVF). This week you can join Tamara Braam, former member of the Interim Steering Committee on Gender-Based Violence, on Facebook or Twitter as she introduces and explains the NSP-GBVF.

On Friday 10 July, responding to worldwide debates on education, the University of Nottingham (UoN) Human Rights Law Centre and the Centre for International Education Research will host a webinar on education in a time of Covid-19.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant global impact on education. Schools and other educational institutions have been closed and online education is being both welcomed as a key element of supporting the education of some and criticised for failing to meet the needs of others. International debates about if, how, and when schools should reopen are ongoing and heated.

Speakers will address questions such as how education systems should be reconceptualised to render them more resilient and how the rights of learners, education workers, parents and the broader community can best be secured.

Professor Aoife Nolan, co-director of the UoN Human Rights Law Centre, will chair the event. Speakers will include Dr Koumbou Boly Barry, United Nations Special Rapporteur, Professor Allyson Pollock, director of the Newcastle University Centre for Excellence in Regulatory Science, and Professor Simon McGrath, chair of UNESCO’s International Education and Development programme.

You can register for the webinar here.

With 11.3 million confirmed cases worldwide, the World Health Organisation says the current Covid-19 outbreak has provoked social stigma and discriminatory behaviours against people of certain ethnic backgrounds as well as anyone perceived to have been in contact with the virus.

To understand and gain insight into the social stigma associated with Covid-19, at 15:00 on Friday, you can join the People’s Health Movement of South Africa’s public webinar, themed Stigma, Covid-19, and Human Rights: learning from HIV. DM/MC

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