Late last year, right in the midst of the lead up to the busy holiday season, there were two very important weeks of activity happening at Living Hope. Annually from 25 November (International Day of No Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day), there are 16 Days of Activism for the “No Violence against Women and Children Campaign.” Other key commemorative days during this period include World Aids Day on the 1st December and the International Day for Persons with Disabilities on 3 December of every year. 2021 marked the 30th anniversary of the Global 16 Days Campaign.

Sadly Gender Based Violence (GBV) is a massive problem in South Africa and Living Hope has recently sought to educate and inform people as well as help those who are victims of Gender Based Violence. This past year we have seen several who have been badly affected through GBV. In an effort to help break this terrible scourge, Living Hope hosted a series of community and events and activities to foster a collaborative effort in dealing with GBV. According to the latest estimates, more than 1 in 3 women in our area have been subjected to physical or sexual violence. We believe that these numbers do not yet fully reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and would be even higher if they included a more complete picture of the last 2 years. Because of the devastating impact of Gender Based Violence in our communities, this is a topic on which Living Hope cannot be silent and so we encourage people to speak against GBV in their homes, communities, work places and circles of influence!

Our teams from various Living Hope departments undertook a massive coordination effort to host multiple events, activities, seminars and exhibits in collaboration with local  government, community leaders, other non-profits and partners. As in previous years, the colour orange was used to represent a brighter future, a future free from violence against women and girls, and as a unifying theme running through all the global activities of the 16 Days of Activism. 

This goals of this 2 week promotional campaign were to:

  • Stimulate public conversations and educate the public on what individuals and organisations can do to raise awareness of GBV.
  • Offer resources to prevent and respond to GBV.
  • Feature stories from survivors.
  • Increase awareness, encourage advocacy and create opportunities for discussion about challenges and solutions.
  • Challenge cultures and practices that perpetuate inequalities and abuse of women and children at personal and societal level.

Here are some of the photos from our activities in late November and early December: 

The launch of the campaign began with a march in Masi, where our Chaplain lead us with relevant scriptures and we were joined by local organizations including Community Cohesion, Masicorp, Visionary Can Ladies, South African Police Service, and Ukhanyo Primary School. Local musicians called Zion Brothers also came and performed a song: “Kwanele: It Is Enough.”

The march was followed by an information session, where the different organizations shared about the work they do in responding to the issue of GBV and how the local communities can access their services. The day was a great success!

Our wellness day was marked by collaboration between City of Cape Town and Mzimba shakers health clubs and our Community Based Care Services. The goal was to promote the importance of emotional, psychological and physical well- being in the fight against GBV.

The team gave seminars at local clinics and hospitals to engage patients on the issues of GBV and HIV/AIDS. These specific outreaches and dialogues focused on stigma surrounding HIV/ AIDS, medications available for preventing and treating HIV and the exploration of GBV through case studies.

Our staff trainings during the 16 Days of Activism included information on being sensitive to and supportive of GBV victims, sharing helpful information, and ensuring that workplace policies prevent and deal with gender based violence. 

The kids fashion show involved children who have been an active part in our Protective Behaviours groups. The children wore orange masks to note their solidarity in the fight against violence on women and children. They shared messages that help keep them safe from harm which they have learned from participating in the group. These include phrases like “I have a right to feel safe at all times”, “I do not keep harmful secrets”, and “I am in charge of my personal space.”

Wellness screenings were conducted, the purpose and the message of the day was explained, and participants were engaged in physical and functional fitness. We encouraged participants to seek personal help to change harmful behaviors such as alcohol and substance abuse.

Our community marches and prayer walks highlighted the value of protecting children from exposure to violence and harmful content on the internet and social media, including pornography, or sexual solicitation.

Thank you for standing with us as we fight the scourge of violence against women and children. We appreciate your partnership!