COUNT ME IN: TOGETHER MOVING A NON-VIOLENT SOUTH AFRICA FORWARD​

25 NOVEMBER - 10 DECEMBER 
2014

This year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign (16 Days Campaign) is important because we commemorate many milestones. The year 2014 marks 60 years since the signing of the Women’s Charter on 17 April 1954 in Johannesburg; 20 years of freedom and democracy in South Africa and 16 years of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign. 

The 16 Days Campaign is an annual awareness-raising Campaign that begins on the 25th of November and runs through until the 10th of December. South Africa adopted the Campaign in 1998 as one of the intervention strategies towards creating a society free of violence. The 2014 - 16 Days Campaign will also be a celebration of the 16th anniversary of 16 Days Campaign, therefore it cannot be business as usual, ‘something’s got to give’. The Campaign has and continues to generate an increased level of awareness amongst South Africans pertaining to the negative impact of violence against women and children (VAW&C) on all members of the community.

In a study commissioned by parliament on the financial implications of gender based violence, the findings indicated that there is often a lack of clarity within departments on exactly what is spent on the implementation of legislation intended for deterring amongst others, GBV. It was found that gender-based violence had significant cost implications to the State and to civil society; and that an improved funding model for addressing GBV that includes prevention funding was essential if government is to adequately respond to the challenges of violence against women and children. To mitigate these findings the Campaign will be broadened to encompass a year-long integrated national plan of action to eliminate violence against women and children.

The Ministry in the Presidency Responsible for Women is tasked with the national coordination of the 16 Days Campaign. Over the past 15 years, all partners, especially government, have generally been successful in raising awareness about the 16 Days Campaign. Every year, government, civil-society organisations and the business sector worked together to broaden the impact of the 16 Days campaign.

By supporting this campaign, thousands of South Africans have also helped to increase awareness on the negative impact of VAW&C and to build support for victims and survivors of this scourge. The previous campaigns have had their successes however they were victim centered and did not reach out to perpetrators as part of the solution. As a result, this has not led to a sustained behavioural and societal change, VAW&C continues unabated. This therefore calls for the activism to be intensified, particularly in rural areas where there are low levels of awareness, bringing on board all other stakeholders that have been left out in the past 15 years of the 16 Days Campaign.

The greatest scourge and tragedy of our beautiful country is violence against women and children. Violence takes many forms, for example:
  • Physical violence in the form of domestic violence, terrible violent crime such as murder, robbery, rape and assault.
  • Emotional violence and trauma at many levels caused by many factors. Women and children in their homes, at work, at schools, on our streets, in our communities suffer this form of violence for various reasons.
  • Another terrible blight of our democracy is the violence of poverty, starvation, humiliation and degradation, especially against women and children. Poverty, inequality and unemployment are conditions under which violence thrives.
  • Difficulties in implementing and enforcing laws aimed at empowering women and ending violence against women and children show a gap between policy, the legal framework and the daily lives of the majority of women. The experiences of women in this country and elsewhere globally reveal that laws on their own are not enough to create the requisite change. Not only the laws need to change - Structures within which cultures, customs, religion and the law operates need to change. Hence, notwithstanding laws aimed at curbing Violence against Women and Children (VAW&C), violence continues unabated.
  • While there have been remarkable changes in social attitudes towards women in the past two decades, this change has not yet resulted in the elimination of the disproportionate effect of poverty, inequality, unemployment and the detrimental effect of violence that women and children face within society. What has increased is the extent to which women’s inequalities and abuse are identified.


The objectives of the 16 Days Campaign are to:
  • Attract all South Africans to be active participants in the fight to eradicate VAW&C; hence the theme: “COUNT ME IN: TOGETHER MOVING A NON-VIOLENT SOUTH AFRICA FORWARD.”
  • Expand accountability beyond the JCPS to include all clusters and provinces; and combine technology, social media, the Arts, journalism, religion, culture and customs, business and activism to draw attention to the many ways VAW&C affects the lives of all people in all communities all around the world.
  • Ensure mass mobilisation of all communities to promote collective responsibility in the fight to eradicate violence against women and children
  • Encourage society through consultation with FBOs, Media houses, Unions, Sports fraternity, Private sector and Civil Society Organisations to shift the society’s view that violence against women and children is NOT a government or criminal justice system problem
  • For society to realise that gender based violence is a societal problem, and that failure to view violence as a societal problem results in all efforts failing to eradicate this scourge in our communities. The purpose is to emphasise the fact that the solution lies with all of us.

The approach:

Religious, customs and cultural beliefs and values have often been cited as among the causes of VAW&C, therefore the purpose of the meetings with different stakeholders was to bring them on board to partner with us to find the solution to this scourge:

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)- Engagement with CSOs is critical for national ownership of efforts to eradicate VAW&C. CSOs have developed substantive capacity and influence on violence against women and children. Partnering with the CSO can help contribute to the effectiveness of monitoring and evaluation of interventions, especially with respect to marginalized and vulnerable groups. Further, CSO are at the grassroot level which is critical for public gender sensitisation and awareness raising programmes aimed at eradicating VAW&C.

Faith Based Organizations (FBO) – The FBOs have been engaged, as government we recognise their value and importance in the fight to eradicate violence against women and children and their role as leaders in the quest towards moral change in society. FBOs also have structures for supporting and reaching communities cost effectively and efficiently, and these structures can be used to correct the beliefs that lead to violence against women and children. We also engaged FBOs as religious values and beliefs are always cited as one of the causes of VAW&C. Therefore bringing them on board will facilitate awareness raising on their role in perpetuating VAW&C and how they can be a solution to eradicating VAW&C. All provinces are therefore requested to mobilise churches to be counted in – in our quest to eradicate VAW&C. 

Count me in – requires them to stand up against and condemn VAW&C as religious leaders

Traditional Leaders – Traditional authorities are said to be custodians of cultural practices and customs. These are also often cited as one of the causes of VAW&C. Therefore bringing them on board will facilitate awareness raising on their role in perpetuating VAW&C and how they can be a solution to eradicating VAW&C. However, traditional practices and customs can be used to promote the respect of women and children and the eradication of VAW&C. Traditional leaders also have structures for supporting and reaching rural communities cost effectively and efficiently, and these structures can be used to correct the beliefs that lead to VAW&C. Count me in – requires them to stand up against and condemn VAW&C as traditional leaders.

Media Partnerships – Various media houses have been engaged and they have come on board. Media plays a critical role as it has a wider reach in the community and in ensuring that the public is educated, informed and encouraged to be active citizens who can be counted on to actively create safer homes, communities and society. All stakeholders including the media will sign the Count Me In Pledge committing themselves to play a more constructive role in shaping public perceptions and promoting beliefs and values that encourages a non-violent society.

Sport fraternity - The Campaign seeks to focus on social mass mobilisation encouraging the increased participation and engagement of men and boys to ensure the collective responsibility of all members of society in the prevention of violence against women and children. The Sports fraternity also has structures for supporting and reaching the sports communities, especially men and boys, cost effectively and efficiently, and these structures can be used to correct the myths and beliefs that lead to VAW&C. Sports have always been used as an important tool for social cohesion and society unity. Therefore the Department intends to use various sporting codes in the country to mobilize South Africans from all walks to be counted in on the fight to eradicate VAW&C.

Commitment to Action

The 2014 – 16 Days Campaign aims to go beyond the 16 Days Campaign to a year-long programme of action on no violence against women and children through the reintroduction of the commitment to ‘call for action’, where all government departments and other stakeholders are requested to commit to a yearlong programme to eradicate VAW&C. These commitments will be monitored and reported on the 25th of November 2015. The aim is to monitor and evaluate the extent to which women’s and children’s lives have improved through the implementation of laws and programmes aimed at eradicating VAW&C.