Taking women's rights seriously

2014-10-23 06:17

A women's rights and social justice organisation in East London is making its mark in the city and internationally by addressing issues of domestic violence, discrimation of women and social injustice. Masimanyane Women's Support Centre has been at the forefront in the fight for justice and women empowerment. Today, the organisation is hosting the last leg of the women empowerment and gender equality conference in East London where a number of women will share for the last time their final observation and understanding around the development of the gender equality bill.

A week ago Masimanyane held a one day consultation conference which addressed Ukuthwala. Ukuthwala or forced child marriages in the Eastern Cape is an issue still under wraps in the province. Even though this issue is seen by women activists and human rights experts as an infringement of the rights of children and women, traditionalists believe it is a custom that should continue despite the emotional and psychological effects it has on the victims. According to Timeslive, In the Eastern Cape alone 20 under aged girls are forced into marrying older men.This practice is mostly common in rural parts of the province such in Lusikisiki. Some of these girls are believed to be as young as eight years old. Masimanyane has described the practice of Ukuthwala as adversely affecting the health and well-being of young girls and is considered throughout Africa as a harmful cultural practice.

As part of the growth of the organization,last month the project coordinator, Thabisa Bobo-Myataza came back from a three week trip to the United States to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). Bobo-Myataza says it was an informal exchange visit project that addressed women's leadership opportunities by exploring ways in which they can lead and transform communities.The program was sponsored by the Embassy of the United States of America.Bobo-Myataza's role in the program was to engage in meetings,workshops,roundtable discussions and examine leadership skills needed to balance social demands and interests when confronting political,social and economical challenges for women. She made a presentation about Masimanyane's work from local to a global level. The programme ran in five different states within the US namely Washington DC, San Diego, Chicago, California and San Antonio in Texas.

Masimanyane continues to work hand in hand with organizations such as People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA),Tsireledzani, Centre for Women’s Global Leadership,International Women’s Rights Actions Watch Asia Pacific,Norwegian Crisis Shelter Movement and Human Rights Watch.

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