Efforts to end violence against women and gender equality are expected to be the focus of this year’s women’s month. Under the theme: “Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights for an Equal Future”, the 2020 Women’s Month Programme, which takes place amid the COVID-19 global pandemic was launched in Pretoria on Thursday.

This year’s National Women’s Day will be celebrated virtually. President Cyril Ramaphosa, who recently described gender-based-violence as the second pandemic is expected to deliver the keynote address.

Women, Youth and Persons with Disability Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, says this year’s Women’s Month focus is a call to action for gender equality to be achieved through a collective effort.

“We should join hands across spheres of government and with all sectors of our society as part of your decade of action towards gender equality. We want to see sustainable programmes that are geared towards achieving this goal. Together with civil society, we are establishing action coalitions that will work to drive visible change for women in our country.”

Nkoana-Mashabane says an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) that President Cyril Ramaphosa set up is ensuring that gender-based violence, femicide, and gender inequality receive appropriate attention.

“The President has formed an IMC and we work together. We exchange information with the whole cabinet yes, but even in the committee that he had formed. This morning at 8c we were sitting with the President,  with the Minister of Justice presenting or sharing with us that which he will share with you later, bills, that are being looked at to be strengthened to strengthen that which we are dealing with here.”

As SABC’s Sipho Stuurman reports Gender-based violence has been described as yet another pandemic plaguing the country:

Police continue to fight gender-based violence 

Minister of Police Bheki Cele who also attended the launch says police continue to wage war against the gender-based violence scourge. South African women experience high levels of domestic violence and gender-based violence.

Cele says the battle against gender-based violence will only be won through a collective effort by all social partners.

“ Police alone are not going to end the brutality and violence against women, that’s a fact that we want to drive home. We’ve got a big responsibility as the members of the South African Police. No doubt about it. But we need to invite and carry everybody around us and be part of the bigger solutions. It cannot be done in the corners by the police alone, working alone there.”

Cele says the 4 728 perpetrators that have been sentenced to life imprisonment is an indication that the police are playing their part. He further explains that police management is dealing with issues that hinder investigations and delay matters.

“For you to do life, somebody should have done a good job in terms of investigation and taking the case forward. So there are good police but indeed there are those that will not do their job as they are supposed to do their job. We are working on that. We have come together. We have made it one of three points to say there should report back on those matters.”