Maverick Citizen

Civil society watch, 14-20 September

By Shani Reddy 14 September 2020

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 16: People of the Eersterust community during the Stop Violence Against Women March on June 16, 2020 in Pretoria, South Africa. The group condemned violence against women after the body of 42-year-old Evelyn de Kock was found stabbed to death outside a room in Eersterust east of Pretoria. 50-year-old man was arrested on Monday. The Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana Mashabane visited the family during the protest. (Photo by Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius)

Four international commemorative days, as designated by the United Nations, are observed this week. Bringing it back home, civil society groups focus on finding solutions to violence against women and children, while others look at dealing with Covid-19 in rural hospitals.

International commemorative days

The United Nations designates specific days, weeks, years, and decades as occasions to mark particular events or topics in order to promote, through awareness and action, the objectives of the UN. This week, there are four important international days that all have direct relevance to civil society struggles in South Africa:

On Tuesday, 15 September, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and parliaments around the world celebrate the International Day of Democracy. Established by the UN General Assembly in 2007, this day provides us with an opportunity to review the state of democracy around the world.  

The UN states that “democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy be made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere”.

Commemorating the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer, Wednesday, 16 September marks the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. This day serves as a reminder of the aim of the Montreal Protocol, which is to protect the ozone layer by taking the necessary action to combat the total global production and consumption of materials that deplete the ozone. 

The World Health Organisation says that: “No one should be harmed in healthcare. Yet thousands of patients across the world suffer avoidable harm, or are put at risk of injury, while receiving health care every single day.”

In light of this tragic reality Thursday, 17 September, marks World Patient Safety Day, which was established by the World Health Assembly in 2019. This day calls for global solidarity and concerted action by all countries to improve patient safety – a call that is important now more than ever given the toll the Covid-19 pandemic has taken on health systems.

It’s 2020 but gender equality and women’s empowerment continue to be a global struggle given unequal power relations between men and women. Celebrated for the first time, on Friday, 18 September, the world observes International Equal Pay Day. This day represents the ongoing efforts made towards achieving equal pay for work of equal value. 

The rest of the week…

On Monday, 14 September, the C19 Food Working Group is hosting an engagement webinar on using indigenous plants for nutrition and health. Meeting details can be found on the poster below.


On Tuesday, 15 September, the Children’s Institute at UCT, together with Sonke Gender Justice and the SAMRC Gender and Health Research Unit, will be launching the first in a series of seminars on promoting intersectoral collaboration to end violence against women and children.

This week join Lehlogonolo Makola (Children’s Institute, UCT) and Mercilene Mahisa (SAMRC) as they set the stage for the series and dive into understanding these intersections.


Wednesday, 16 September is a busy day with a series of valuable webinars so you will need to plan well!

At 10am the Good Food Network is launching their #UNPOISON webinar series on to raise awareness on the impacts of agrochemicals.

The first webinar, titled #UnpoisonOurAir – toxic spray drift, will focus on people who have first-hand stories of exposures. Speakers include Jurgen Schirmaker who previously lived in Riebeek Kasteel where he and his family were poisoned by the spray drift from a nearby wine farm in the area, Sasha Mentz (co-founder of GMO & Poison Free Zones), and a parent (unnamed for now) with children at school near a strawberry farm who’s spraying has affected the schoolchildren with a range of ailments.

Click here to join.

At noon, the World Health Organisation in partnership with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has organised a webinar  for governments and technical partners in the African region that aims to share experiences and operational guidance for continuity of essential health services to ensure migrants, including internally displaced persons and migration affected communities, are not left behind in the response to Covid-19.

You can register for the webinar here.

Wednesday also sees the AIDC launch a two-part webinar series on combating illicit financial flows to finance a just recovery for Africa.

This week, join Alvin Moisoima (Tax Justice Africa), Ndinaye Sekwi (African Union), and Prince Peters Adeyemi (Public Services International) as they discuss why tax justice matters to labour and ordinary citizens, what the AU recommends for curbing illicit financial flows, and reiterate recommendations for fair taxing of multinational companies.


Once again hunger stalks millions of people. But it doesn’t need to be this way. Tracy Ledger is the author of the path-breaking An Empty Plate: Why we are losing the battle for our food system, why it matters and how we can win it back. At 6pm join Tracy and Mark Heywood, the editor of Maverick Citizen, in a “Don’t Shut Up” Jacana Conversation to discuss how we might reimagine food and society and build a new system upon the foundation of solidarity and ethical food citizenship.

On Thursday, 17 September, the Rural Doctors Association of South Africa, in partnership with the Tshemba Foundation and the MRC/Wits-Agincourt Research Unit, bring you a webinar series on Managing Covid-19 in a rural district hospital. Each session will have Covid-19 experts from leading Academic institutions.

This week, Dr Hans Hendriks (Zithulele Hospital, Eastern Cape) will discuss a rural approach to Covid-19, including the use of Bubble CPAP, followed by a panel of medical experts led by infectious disease physician Dr Jeremy Nel, and joined by frontline rural doctors presenting cases. Register here. DM/MC

South Africa is full of activists whose voices and campaigns need to be heard, and we want to report on all of them. So, wherever you live, if you have virtual events or meetings which you think other activists ought to know about, write to us at [email protected]

Also, please sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

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