Since 9 August 1956, the day when some 20 000 women petitioned at Union Buildings against the introduction of passes to black women has been devoted to acknowledging women as progressive change agents. This year, fittingly Women’s Month in August is directed at programmes and individuals that can mobilise against the gender-based violence epidemic that is crippling our country.
At Girls and Boys Town South Africa we invest resources and love into healing the youth placed into our therapeutic residential care environments. We work at the forefront of research to deliver the most effective therapeutic care – but this can be quickly undone if the society where youth are reintroduced to once they leave remains be violent.
Gender-based violence in essence is violence committed from the perspective that women (and girls and children) have no agency over their body, that men/boys are superior to women and that women cannot fully participate in society simply because they are their gender and/or sex. It is a form of violence that can be expressed through physical and emotional abuse or through financial and societal structures. It is carried out by those who believe that women and girls are inferior and thus warrant to be violated.
Taking care of women and the girl child has a far-reaching impact on society. According to Stats SA’s 2020 estimates, 51,1% of the population is female. Can you imagine the possibilities of having 51,1% of the population healthy, educated and protected? In this pandemic where we have all watched closely the ways each country is dealing with the novel coronavirus, you would be remiss if you did not notice the attention that Taiwan and New Zealand have received for their response. These are countries that have women as their leaders. This is not to say that women are better than men. It is to highlight that if these women were not given a chance, we would have two less countries to look to on how to save millions of lives.
The work you enable us to do by being one of the staff at Girls & Boys Town South Africa, a fan, partner, donor and a volunteer allows us as a collective to give girls a chance. To help us heal them, see their value and give them tools to make a success for themselves by contributing positively to society. It however does not end with our girls: as families, youth-care organisations and society, we must help our boys to learn that they shine when they respect girls and women. All our children at GBTSA are treated equally because that is the society we hope to build. It’s a society in which men and women use their differences and diverse talents to make our world better – regardless of their sex or gender.
We thank you for your continued support for our work and entrusting us with the future of our world. We urge you to continue to assist us as donors, teachers and stakeholders. But we also urge you to protect this investment into our work by being part of a movement that creates safer spaces for healing children and young adults. Standing up against gender-based violence is a crucial element of this.