R141 million pledged for first phase of the GBVF Response Fund - Ramaphosa reveals

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  • Ramaphosa has announced that the GBVF Private Sector Response Fund has received over R100 million in pledges since its establishment earlier this year.
  • Government has called on businesses, donors, philanthropists, and individuals to contribute to the fund's work.
  • Ramaphosa delivered the 2021 National Women's Day keynote address virtually on Monday in commemoration of 20 000 South African women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 to demand an end to pass laws.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his gratitude towards the first phase of an innovative Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) Private Sector Response Fund which has, to date, received some R141 million in pledges.

The amount was raised during the launch of the GBVF Response Fund 1 aimed at supporting the implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP), and the wider GBVF response in the country.

Based on the success of raising funds, the President has, however, called on businesses, donors, philanthropists, and individuals to contribute to the fund's work. The fund was established earlier this year.

"A critical pillar of the plan is to ensure women's economic and financial inclusion. One way we are achieving this is by creating procurement opportunities for women-owned businesses within the public sector supply chain," he said.

Ramaphosa who delivered the 2021 National Women's Day Keynote Address on Monday, announced the release of a one-year progress report on the implementation of the NSP.

READ | 'Year of Charlotte Maxeke: Realising women's rights' - celebration of 65th Women's Day

He said over the past year, in partnership with civil society, both entities have worked together to give effect to the six pillars of the NSP.

The pillars include accountability, coordination, and leadership; prevention and rebuilding social cohesion; justice, safety and protection; response, care, support and healing; economic power; and research and information management.

The President said government had allocated approximately R21 billion over the next three years to support the six pillars of the NSP.

Although the launch of the plan coincided with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ramaphosa said they had made measurable progress.

"As part of the work to provide justice and support to survivors of gender-based violence, 32 regional courts have been designated as sexual offenses courts in various parts the country.

"Around 3 500 Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences investigating officers have received specialised training to do their work," he said.

Fighting GBVF

The President said 12 other public buildings had been renovated and repurposed to be used as shelters.

Ramaphosa also said work has been done to ensure that all police stations have sexual assault evidence kits.

READ | Edwin Cameron: Harsh prison terms won’t solve the crisis of gender-based violence

While gender-based violence cases remain a huge threat to many communities, Ramaphosa added that there had been important legal reforms and that key legislation around domestic violence, bail, and the sentencing of offenders, as well as broadening the scope of sexual offenses and other matters was currently before Parliament.

He said:

Our courts are handing down harsh penalties and sentences to those found guilty of gender-based violence and conviction rates in sexual offenses cases have improved. We will soon ratify the International Labour Organisation's Convention 190, which addresses sexual harassment and violence in the workplace.

Women Empowerment

Last year government announced that 40 percent of public procurement would go to women-owned or-operated businesses. The President once again called on the private sector to make a similar commitment to enhancing the empowerment of the women of South Africa.

In addition to that, Ramaphosa said a Women's Economic Assembly would be launched later this month to identify supply chain opportunities for women-owned businesses in key industries such as the steel, automotive, and energy sectors.

"Work is underway to develop a financial inclusion policy to address the barriers experienced by women-owned businesses and low-income earners to access credit, to also access grants and other financial transactions," he said.

Ramaphosa stressed that when growth at the economic level stalled, when development halted, and when the economy loses jobs, women bore the brunt of this disproportionately.

READ | Over 300 000 untested DNA kits backlog GBV cases

While the social and economic relief measures implemented last year provided much-needed support to women workers, small business owners, and grant recipients, the President said it remained a concern that the levels of employment and income among women which did not recover as fast as their male counterparts.

"We are therefore working to ensure that women benefit from the most recent relief measures and our Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

"Our commitment towards the empowerment of women in this country has been matched by our commitment to advancing the position of women on our African continent," he said.

African Participation 

Ramaphosa stressed the government was working to ensure that the Protocol on Women in Trade enables the effective participation of African women in the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement.

"We are working to ensure that women and young people are well represented at the Intra-Africa Trade Fair, which we will host in November.

"South Africa was part of the United Nations Generation Equality Forum that took place in June, where we made clear commitments to protect and promote women's leadership and representation across society," he said.

Ramaphosa added that through the Charlotte Maxeke Women's Initiative on Economic Justice and Rights, the government was mobilising global support for projects that promote increased opportunities for women and girls in decision-making across political and economic spheres.

On this day, exactly 65 years, 20 000 South African women from all walks of life and various parts of the country marched to the Union Buildings to demand an end to harsh pass laws.

READ | Chapter 9 institution disappointed in withdrawal of GBV cases in an Eastern Cape hotspot

Despite the dangers of challenging apartheid authorities, they asserted their worth as human beings and refused to be relegated to the margins of history in their own country.
"We salute the courage of this generation and its leaders, among them Lilian Ngoyi, Rahima Moosa, Helen Joseph, Sophie de Bruyn, Albertina Sisulu, Bertha Gxowa, Motlalepula Chabaku and many others.

"We have declared 2021 as the Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke, a courageous women's rights activist and also a leader who was born 150 years ago. We celebrate this year of her birth because we want to encourage the women of this country to follow her example and to follow in her footsteps.

"We celebrate the resolve of these women to determine their own destiny. At the same time we pay tribute to today's generation of women," Ramaphosa said.

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