16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence is an annual campaign that takes place all over the world from 25 November (International Day of No Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day), to raise awareness on the negative impact that violence against women and children has on society. South Africa joined the campaign in 1998 as one of the strategic interventions to make South Africa a violence-free society.
The theme for 2021 is “The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke – 16 Days of Activism – moving from awareness to accountability”.
The success of this campaign rests on our daily individual and collective actions to safeguard our society against the cycle of abuse against women and children.
Parliament plays a critical role in promoting the values enshrined in our Constitution such as advancing people’s human rights and dignity, equality, non-racialism and non-sexism. Parliament also has the responsibility of protecting the most vulnerable in society through the passing of laws that allow for such provisions to be met.
Parliament has two committees, namely the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth & Persons with Disabilities and the Joint Multi-Party Women's Caucus, that focus on gender issues. The Portfolio Committee has an oversight function: it oversees the performance of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, and the Commission on Gender Equality. Its core focus is the empowerment of women and other marginalised groups. The Joint Multi-Party Women’s Caucus is more of an advisory body: it is a platform for women parliamentarians to champion gender equality and women’s issues in and outside of Parliament, across party political lines.
Three GBV Bills were introduced in Parliament after the November 2018 Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF). The summit resolved, amongst others, to fast track the review of existing laws and policies and to ensure that all other relevant laws address GBVF. The three Bills were processed and passed by Parliament in September 2021.
In addition to the above, to date these are some of the pieces of legislation that Parliament is currently processing and/or has passed in support of promoting a GBV-free society:
• Children’s Amendment Bill • Cybercrimes Bill • Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bills • Maintenance Amendment Act of 2015 • The Promotion of Equity and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2000
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