South Africa

Making a difference

Private sector pledges millions to South Africa’s new Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Response Fund

Private sector pledges millions to South Africa’s new Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Response Fund
President Cyril Ramaphosa virtually launches a private sector-led, multi-sectoral Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Fund, aimed at supporting the implementation of the National Strategic Plan and the wider GBV response in the country. Photo: Siyabulela Duda / GCIS)

After years of protests against gender-based violence and three years after SA’s first Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Summit, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched a private sector-led Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Response Fund.

On Thursday President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the private sector-led Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Response Fund, which will go towards addressing the scourge of gender-based violence.

“Gender-based violence impacts us all. It has social, psychological, financial and political effects. These effects are insidious, intergenerational and long-lasting, not just on the survivors but the rest of the society,” said Ramaphosa at the virtual launch.

South Africa has a femicide rate that is five times greater than the global rate. There is a femicide every four hours and in 50% of the cases the woman is murdered by a partner.

At a special joint sitting of Parliament in 2019, Ramaphosa announced that representatives from the private sector would meet to discuss the establishment of a Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Response Fund.

On Thursday Ramaphosa thanked Absa for pledging R20-million, Anglo-American for pledging R30-million and the Ford Foundation for pledging R20-million.

“These contributions will make a difference in many lives,” said Ramaphosa. 

Faith Mangope, a radio and TV presenter, who facilitated the programme, said that Aspen had contributed R500,000, as had Sanlam.

Other businesses that had made pledges to the fund are:

  • MTN pledged R5-million;
  • Vodacom pledged R10-million;
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged R6-million;
  • Old Mutual pledged R500,000;
  • Nozala Trust pledged R3-million; and
  • Sasol pledged R1-million.

Irene Charnley, the president of the International Women’s Forum South Africa, said the objectives of the fund are to be a “vehicle for private-sector contributions, resources for the implementation of the gender-based violence and femicide National Strategic Plan, to provide the necessary programming and financial infrastructure, to facilitate accountability and governance for private sector funds as well as to facilitate operational and strategic cohesion between donors and government”.

The chairperson of the fund’s board will be Dr Judy Dlamini, a businesswoman and the chancellor of Wits University. The deputy chairperson of the board will be Wendy Lucas-Bull, a businesswoman and the chairperson of Absa’s board. Other board members who were announced are Faith Khanyile, the CEO and founding member of WDB Investment Holdings (WDBIH), a strategic transformational investor founded and led by women; and Dr Namane Magau, the director of consulting company B&D Solutions.

Dlamini, who was one of the speakers, described the fund as a “ground-breaking intervention” which is especially important as gender-based violence continues to “ravage our families”.

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the Minister of Women Youth and Persons with Disabilities, thanked the private sector for making the fund possible. She emphasised that eradicating gender-based violence can only be possible when there are collaborations between government, the private sector and civil society.

The fund comes after hard work and advocacy from civil society. In August 2018 #TotalShutdown marchers handed over a list of demands to the Presidency at the Union Buildings and demanded the development of a National Action Plan on gender-based violence.

In 2020 the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide was approved. It has six pillars, which include prevention and building social cohesion, strengthening leadership and governance and improving access to support for survivors.

The #TotalShutdown marches led to South Africa’s first Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Summit, whereparticipants presented a national declaration of priority actions, setting the roadmap to a South Africa free from GBV and femicide”.

In a report released after the summit, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said that the summit “presented an ideal space for government actors and representatives in the criminal justice system to listen, think and plan together with civil society and the broader spectrum of our society”.

After the summit, the Interim Steering Committee on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (ISC) was established, comprised of government and civil society. The ISC was co-chaired by advocate Brenda Madumise-Pajibo from The Wise Collective who represented civil society, and Professor Olive Shisana, the presidential special adviser on social policy, who represented the government.

The ISC had two tasks – to establish a permanent multisectoral body to coordinate efforts to end and prevent GBV; and to implement actions in the declaration as agreed on by the ISC.

In a series of articles, writer and researcher Jennifer Smout wrote about the lack of accountability and transparency under which the ISC operated. Smout wrote: “The ISC reports weekly to the president, not the public, and they do not have a website where the public can access information about their progress. Occasional media statements through GCIS don’t always give a sense of whether the multisectoral body is operating in a democratic or participatory way, whether the representation of civil society is meaningful, or of the extent to which the government is taking their suggestions on board.”

This month also marks a year since BMW donated five cars to “aid South Africa’s fight against gender-based violence”. DM

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