The scourge of Gender-Based Violence, the impact of COVID-19 on women, as well as the issues of social grants came under the spotlight at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s annual Women’s Parliament on Friday. The Women’s Parliament, held virtually, is part of Women’s Month commemorations.

Women from various parts of the province debated and made recommendations on how to address Gender-Based Violence, as well as how COVID-19 relief grants and food parcels can be efficiently distributed.

Three commissions weighed in on different topics and have made recommendations on how to take on women’s concerns. The commission on Gender-Based Violence noted that although South Africa has the best laws on domestic violence, the number of cases of violence against women is still high.

City of Joburg launches 24 Hour GBV Crisis Line:

Temporary shelter 

Participants say victims are expected to co-exist with their abusers in the same communities, whether they forgive them or not.

“My name is Dolly and I’m from Pretoria, Soshanguve. For women who are abused at home, they should at least have a temporary home for them and the kids, since it’s not easy to get the perpetrator arrested. Even if they’re arrested, they don’t stay long. He’s still coming back in the same house as the victim, staying with the same kids and it’s traumatic for the kids.”

The women want gender issues to be included in the school curriculum so that males can be taught to respect women from an early age.

Nomfundo Ngcwabe, who chaired the commission on Gender-Based Violence, says they want an investigation into the effectiveness of government’s GBV programmes.

“All the resources provided for Gender-Based Violence in SA, how much of those are actually benefiting the intended beneficiaries? How much of the South African laws were inherited from historical pre-1994, and are not representative of the current SA content? What is the role played by the department of monitoring and evaluation in the office of the presidency in ensuring that the departments can deliver Gender-Based Violence programmes as desired?”

Launch of the 24-hour iThemba Substance Abuse & GBV & Femicide crisis line. [Picture by @ArnoldsMmc]

Another commission debated the impact of unethical conduct in the public service. They say that the reported PPE tender corruption affects women more than men because the majority of nurses on the frontline of fighting COVID-19 are women.

Dineo Marema, who chaired that commission, says the government must introduce basic training in fighting corruption.

“Training must include financial management, so that public servants are able to manage their own finances, the introduction of a career-system based on merit appointment. fair human resources policies on remuneration and conditions of service; strengthening of whistleblowing and protection of whistleblowers. There is a need for political will as well as ethical exemplary leadership, as senior civil servants remain critical in the effective promotion of ethics in the public service.”

Food parcels

With regard to COVID-19 food parcels, they suggested that local churches should do the distribution. And those whose applications for the R350 relief grant have been turned down, are demanding a platform to challenge the rejections.

Thubelihe Msweli chaired the commission looking into the role of social grants as a way of alleviating poverty for women.

“It is evident that there’s room for growth and improvement in the way that social grants and aid are made available to our women. it is also evident that we need sustainable and multi-sectoral solutions to alleviate poverty in our communities. When we empower women economically, we empower families. And when we empower families, we empower communities. With ongoing support, monitoring and accountability, together we can eradicate poverty among our women.”

The Gauteng Legislature representatives say they’ll submit the recommendations to the provincial Department of Social Development for possible implementation.

Commissioner for Gender Equality, Mbuyiselo Botha reacts  to the crisis line: