Activists plan Sandton shutdown in protest of gender-based violence

The gender based violence protest follows the one that took place last week outside the World Economic Forum. (David Harrison/M&G)

The gender based violence protest follows the one that took place last week outside the World Economic Forum. (David Harrison/M&G)

Gender rights activists will embark on a ‘Shutdown Sandton’ campaign on Friday in an effort to highlight business’s complicity in gender based violence.

Protesters are set to mobilise at 3am outside the JSE.

This comes after thousands protested outside the World Economic Forum (WEF) last week, forcing President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the throng outside of parliament. While activists have hailed the country’s sadness, anger and solidarity, they believe that “businesses have much to answer for regarding the gender based violence”.

“While the WEF last week announced a global response to the shocking levels of GBV [gender-based violence] in South Africa, we have yet to hear anything from corporate South Africa,” a statement that will be presented to corporate South Africa on Friday reads.

The statement emphasises three main points that point to the exploitation of women in South African businesses. The first of these issues is pay disparities between men and women.

“Despite legislation to the contrary this discrimination against womxn is institutionalised and normalised.
We demand that business, as part of a commitment to ending gender-based violence, ends this unjust practice too and adopts clear time frames for the eradication of this practice with a naming and shaming of perpetrators,” it reads.

The statement then moves on to the prevalent tolerance of sexual harassment within the workplace. The statement demands that this type of behaviour be abolished and whistle-blowers given complete support, including emotional support.

The protesters also aim to address the gender inequalities that occur at top management as only 3.3% of listed companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) have women chief executives.

“Despite this knowledge, we have seen no practical measures put into place for ending this effective discrimination against 52% of the population,” the statement says.

The statement makes three primary demands for all companies listed on the JSE: businesses should speak out on gender based violence, JSE listing criteria must include a 2% levy on profits and all listed entities must help fund the ongoing fight against femicide and violence against women.

Finally, the statement demands that all JSE-listed companies donate to the National Strategy Plan on GBV and femicide which will be launched in November.

Eyaaz Matwadia

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