Civil society watch, 5-11 October
This week the world observes four important international commemorative days which have direct relevance to civil society campaigns in South Africa and globally.
Day of action against unemployment
Unemployment in South Africa is at an all-time high, with current figures sitting at around 10 million. The pandemic has worsened the situation considerably, and many continue to live in poverty.
On Wednesday, 7 October, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), COSATU and the organisations involved in the C19 People’s Coalition are organising a national strike and day of action against corruption, poverty and inequality. The posters below provide details on where demonstrations will be taking place.
International commemorative days
This week, there are four important international days:
Designated by the United Nations in 1985, World Habitat Day will be observed on Monday, 5 October. As a nation, it’s a good time to use this day to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the constitutional right of everyone to adequate housing.
Monday also sees the celebration of World Teacher’s Day. Held annually since 1994, this day celebrates the rights and responsibilities of teachers, takes stock of their achievements and draws attention to the voices of teachers. The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly added to the challenges faced by already over-extended education systems throughout the world. This year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will celebrate Teacher’s Day with the theme, Teachers: leading in crisis, reimagining the future.
Covid-19 and the nationwide lockdown have everyone’s spirits. This year’s World Mental Health Day, on Saturday, 10 October, is an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of mental health, not only for those diagnosed with mental illnesses, but also for our frontline workers, families, and neighbours who are all feeling the brunt of the pandemic. You can join the KZN Mental Health Advocacy Group and the Empathy & Hope Project for a virtual mental health advocacy walk. See the poster below for details.
On Sunday, 11 October, we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child. Established by the United Nations in 2011, this day represents the recognition of girls’ rights around the world, and the unique challenges they face. As adolescent girls worldwide assert their power as change-makers, International Day of the Girl Child 2020 will focus on their demands to live free from gender-based violence, harmful practices and HIV/Aids; to learn new skills and to lead as a generation of activists accelerating social change.
The rest of the week…
Systemic corruption has become the norm in South Africa. Corrupt practices steal resources from the poor and deny people their rights to education, health, food, water, housing, humanity, freedom, justice and peace.
On Monday at 12:00, join the Mail & Guardian and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for a discussion on the impact of corruption on individual rights. Speakers include Gauteng provincial head of the SAHRC, Buang Jones, head of legal and investigations at Corruption Watch, Karam Singh, and seasoned SAHRC member Gushwell Brooks.
‘Neoliberalism’ over the last 30 years has taken its toll on virtually every country in the world. This is the subject of a book by respected historian Quinn Slobodian, called Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism (Harvard University Press, 2018). But how has this policy model made itself felt in South Africa?
On Tuesday, 6 October, the Children’s Institute at UCT, together with Sonke Gender Justice (SGJ) and the SAMRC Gender and Health Research Unit, is hosting the fourth in a series of seminars on promoting intersectoral collaboration to end violence against women and children.
This week join Bafana Khumalo (SGJ), Kayan Leung (SGJ), Dr Nwabisa Jama Shai (SAMRC), and Mayke Huijbregts (UNICEF) as they discuss South Africa’s national policy frameworks and whether they support an integrated approach. Register here.
At 17:30 Maverick Citizen editor Mark Heywood will host a discussion with former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke about his latest book, All Rise. Together with advocate Adila Hassim and SECTION27 legal researcher, Tendai Mafuma, they will explore how civil society uses the Constitution, as well as take a look at socio-economic rights and the future of the Constitution. Register here.
On Wednesday at 13:00, the University of the Witwatersrand is hosting its second webinar in a series of critical engagements titled Pandemic Pangolins: Systems, Science, and Society. Wits is bringing together experts to debate and evaluate the ever-changing body of knowledge emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic. This series probes pandemic innovations, responses and partnerships.
This week, speakers (to be announced) will discuss the importance of ethics during a pandemic. Register here.
At 18:00 on Thursday, 8 October, join Jonathan Ball Publishers, Love Books, and The Reading List for the launch of pioneering journalist and editor Anton Harber’s new book: So, for the record: Behind the headlines in an era of state capture.
According to The Reading List, Harber’s book is “both a disquieting exposé of how easily the media can be duped by a conniving cabal for its own selfish ends, and a celebration of brilliant investigative reporting by brave and ethical journalists”.
Finally, for those who imagine a better world, Friday 9 October would have been the 80th birthday of singer/songwriter/activist John Lennon. His 1971 song Imagine is still one of the most well-loved anthems of social justice in the world, and was recently sung by mourners after the death of US judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A good day to pause, recharge and take stock of where we are in the world. 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]
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