My role in 16 days of Activism Campaign

We are five days into the “16 days of Activism” campaign, and jeepers have I been overwhelmed with emotion with it all. To be completely honest I was not aware of this campaign until this year {head under a rock – okay maybe 3 children has something to do with it}, but this year my heart is being pulled in a big way. I first heard about the campaign on 5fm a few days ago, and then I received an email from the team at 1st for Women which encouraged me to look a little deeper into this campaign. You guys know that when something sets fire to my soul I have to share about it… So here we are!

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.

This year, we have seen awareness around gender based abuse grow, with hashtivism on social media not only having empowered women, but raising awareness about pertinent issues that until now, were often only discussed in whispers, or not at all. For instance the #metoo hashtag. While these conversations are vital, where do we go from here? It takes more than a hashtag to put an end to violence against women.

Robyn Farrell, CEO 1st for WomenInsurance and trustee of the 1st for Women Foundation says; “Hundreds of admirable campaigns denouncing women abuse have been launched.  And yet, in South Africa, women abuse remains rife. A more cohesive step must to be taken to create meaningful change and instead of dissipating efforts, South Africans need to come together as one.”

The team at 1st For Women informed me that this is why they have launched For Women – a platform that consolidates women abuse fighting efforts in one place. The site features the public, private and non-profit organisations who have vowed to put an end to women abuse, so that survivors of abuse can find the right help, quickly. For Women also enables South Africans and corporate South Africa who want to take a stand against women abuse to easily connect with organisations who need their help. There is something about SA coming together like this – all with a common goal, that gives me actual goosebumps! You guys, IMAGINE what we can achieve TOGETHER. It takes me back to earlier in November watching Mrs South Africa — YOU GUYS DID I MENTION THAT MY COUSIN WON…???!!! That’s right, Nicole Capper – my beautiful, inspiring, strong and more-than capable cousin WON Mrs South Africa… I am beyond proud, but in no way surprised. The day I heard she entered I knew she would win.

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Image source: https://mrssouthafrica.co.za
To follow Nicole and her story: https://www.instagram.com/_nicolecapper/ 

Anyway, I digress — Why it takes me back to watching Mrs South Africa was because Nix was asked in final questions what upset her most about South Africa, and she said that it was that judgement was so rife. She said; “We can work harder to create unity amongst us, the less judgement we have for one another, the better we will be moving forward.” And this to me resonates so much with what 1st for Woman is trying to do with pulling everyone with this common purpose together – let’s target gender based violence together, pooling resources, knowledge and sheer spirit, to attain a common goal – eradicating it! Surely together we can achieve far more than we can in our own strength? With less judgement we will take down walls, and encourage openness and unity and more conversation. We will encourage more people to take about their experience without the fear of being accused or judged. We can form chains that cannot be broken. I believe that ending judgement will mean the beginning of more beautiful things than we can imagine!

The answer to a question posed to one of the finalists of Mrs South Africa pulled at me too:
Judge Unaiza Suliman asked; “On average 110 women are sexually abused daily, how would you implement possible solutions in order to protect your fellow females?”

The beautiful Mankoana Nhlebela answered with all the grace and perfection: – “I think often times with domestic violence we focus on the victims, we need to start reconditioning minds to the potential perpetrators which are often the males. When we empower women we should never forget to empower the boychild. Because we need to teach him that an empowered woman is strong, but that does mean that when she has a voice she is disrespectful. We need to tell him that he can co-exist in peace and respect that empowered woman. Because we need to as mothers ensure that these boys are brought up with the right foundations. And then the social ills we see will definitely diminish.

This! You guys!! This went straight into my heart like an arrow. I am raising boys. These boys must know how to treat a woman. They must know that above all else, there must always be respect. These boys of mine will grow to be fathers too one day, and they will need to possibly father daughters who will too need to know that they must respect themselves. The role of a father is enormous and possibly underrated and under-appreciated in our society today.  One of the organisations working with 1st for Women is “Fathers in Africa”, and my goodness, reading more about the heart of this organisation had me in tears.

Renowned family expert, David Blankenhorn says, “It is no exaggeration to say that fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation. It is the engine driving our most urgent social problems.” Current research backs up his statement. When fathers are disenfranchised for a variety of reasons, here are the results:

  • Their children have a higher rate of health issues, anxiety, depression and behavioural problems.
  • Teenagers are at greater risk of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drug use, crime and suicide.
  • Adolescent girls are three times more likely to engage in sexual relations by the time they turn 15 and five times more likely to become a teen mother.

The platform, For Women,  has been structured to holistically address women abuse through three key pillars – prevention (organisations that work to address the multiple and often interlinked causes of abuse), preparation (organisations that empower women with the tools they need to put an end to this social tragedy), and provision (organisations that can support and assist abuse survivors on their journey).

“When society is faced with having to learn about and process a multifaceted problem such as women abuse, one of three things happen. Either we find someone to blame, switch off or we take action. It is our promise to all South Africans that, as a brand for women, we will make a tangible and lasting difference,” concludes Farrell, 1st for Women.

I personally don’t want to sit back and do one of the first two things, you guys!! Prevention is where I see my place, raising and educating my boys to know how to respect and care for women. Raising my daughter to know her worth and that her voice deserves to be heard.
One day when I have more capacity I definitely want to take a more active role in fighting against gender-based violence in SA, but for now I vow to do what I can in my capacity as a mom.

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My boys and their baby sister – my prayer is that they may treat every girl they interact with in this life with the love and respect they show her

x x x x x

You guys, take a look at this video if you want to feel the feels I am feeling: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-myyeenSFQ
More info:
Fathers in Africa is just one off the many organisations working with 1st for Women through its For Women platform to end woman abuse. To find out more about the platform and the other organisations which are involved please visit www.for-women.co.za.

For Women was developed by 1st for Women Insurance who, over the past 12 years, has donated over R56 million to organisations that fight abuse. The platform is powered by Forgood.

To find out more about For Women and the organisations which are involved or to register your organisation please visit www.for-women.co.za

Author: Shan Fourie

I am a happy South African wife and a truly blessed mom of two beautiful boys and a baby girl...! I am CREATIVE and love creating things and teaching myself. I love people, my friends and family especially. I love positivity and change.

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