South African women and children continue to face the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide -- and economic empowerment is the only viable way to reduce this vice among them, Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Nkoana-Mashabane, has said.
The minister was addressing the launch of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign at the Johannesburg Expo Centre in Johannesburg on Friday.
The two-week campaign is themed “Socio-Economic Rights and Empowerment to build Women’s Resilience against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF): Connect, Collaborate, Contract.”
“The scourge of gender-based violence and femicide continues to undermine our efforts of building a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, and united South Africa,” the minister said.
She said at the centre of government’s response to GBVF was to tackle “the drivers of violence in our communities.”
This included challenging the socio-economic status of women and other vulnerable groups, including the youth, persons with disabilities and LGBTQIA+ persons, she added.
She said: “Inclusive economic empowerment remains a key priority of the government and it is a central tenet to ensuring a more equal society for all.”
“The biggest challenge for women therefore is economic power. Let’s expose them to opportunities to generate their own income so they can walk away from abusive relationships,” according to Nkoana-Mashabane.
“The call for the economic empowerment of women cannot be separated from the broader call for a violence-free South Africa,” the minister said.
“Both need to be met with urgency,” she added.
“Ultimately, we are saying that walking away from an abusive situation must not lead women and children into poverty,” the minister said.