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[Read] Why civil society has agreed to attend another presidential summit on gender-based violence

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for another presidential summit on gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF). The previous presidential summit on GBVF was held in November 2018. That summit was in response to demand number one of the 24 demands that were developed by the #Totalshutdown movement, which took to the streets in August 2018, threatening to shut South Africa down if the government continued to fail to take GBVF seriously.

There has been no demand for this summit. It comes at a time when there is mounting criticism against summits and commissions that have been convened by the president. Why another summit? And, why is civil society participating? A considered response to the latter question is not only deserved but required.

The presidency stated four objectives for the summit: to demonstrate the government’s high-level commitment and accountability to the national response, to accelerate key actions and accountability by government departments and other stakeholders, to share progress, and, lastly, to provide a space for wider collaboration.

Publicly available evidence indicates that the government has not reasonably demonstrated high-level commitment and accountability. As co-implementers of the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NSP GBVF), civil society knows what should have been done, which has not happened. Civil society is well-placed to refute this objective and decisively state that a glowing report is not even a remote possibility. We all know this.

There are well-documented barriers to implementation that exist because of the government’s failure to coordinate, account for and lead the response. It’s inconceivable that the presidency has improved public relations as the desired outcome of this costly exercise.

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Source: The Mail and Guardian


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