The unacceptably high levels of gender- based violence and femicide in South Africa are a blight on our national conscience, and a betrayal of our constitutional order for which so many fought, and for which so many gave their lives.
South Africa holds the shameful distinction of being one of the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman. We have amongst the highest rates of intimate partner violence, and recently released data from Statistics SA show that rape and sexual violence has become hyperendemic. This is a scourge that affects black and white, young and old, rich and poor, heterosexual and homosexual gender-conforming or non-gender con- forming, urban and rural.
Women and girls are being abused, assaulted and murdered in our country every day – at the hands of men. We are in the throes of a deep crisis that must be brought to a decisive end.
In response to mounting calls from women’s groups, civil society and the public at large for urgent action to be taken to address this problem, on the 1st and 2nd of November 2018 we convened the first Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide. This was a landmark summit in several respects.
For the first time since the formation of the Women’s National Coalition in 1992, indivi- duals and organisations representing a broad swathe of society united behind a common vision.
The Summit was also instrumental in identi- fying key interventions to address, not just gender-based violence and femicide, but the wider challenges women and children face with regards to safety and security, poverty and access to economic opportunities, and the contestation of their rights in a climate where patriarchy and chauvinism is widely prevalent and all-pervasive.