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No council yet for gender-based violence — independent report details why

The committee tasked to co-ordinate South Africa’s responses to gender-based violence and femicide, which was disbanded in April 2019, has still not been convened. 

This information is contained in an independent report by the Commission for Gender Equality. The interim steering committee (ISC) was tasked with setting up a permanent, multisectoral structure to co-ordinate the country’s responses to gender-based violence and femicide within six months. This structure will also oversee other commitments contained in the gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) summit declaration

The Mail & Guardian previously reported that a Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Response Fund has been established to implement the 2020 national strategic plan (NSP) on gender-based violence and femicide. This plan was the outcome of the presidential summit against gender-based violence and femicide in 2018. 

The plan, which received government funding of R21-billion, is set to run over 10 years. After the launch of a private sector’s response fund in February this year, we reported that no council has yet been appointed to guide the national strategic plan. 

The M&G also reported that an invitation to nominate candidates for the board of trustees was issued in October last year, but that no council or board has yet been created. At the time, the department of women, youth and persons with disabilities, did not know what caused the delay.  

But now we know. 

More than a month later the Commission on Gender Equality has informed parliament’s portfolio committee on women, youth and persons with disabilities that the interim steering committee’s “focus on activities that were not contained in the summit declaration could have led to delays and the ultimate failure of the ISC to establish the multisectoral co-ordinating NCGBVF [National Council on GBV and Femicide].”

The report claims there was “no document available that provides details on how the ISC was to be created, its membership, day-to-day operations, the appointment of office bearers, the scope of its powers, size of members, allocation of responsibilities and resources”.

It adds that because of the absence of important details and “limited co-operation from members of the ISC” several questions about the structural design of the interim steering committee went unanswered. 

The commission recommends that “there should be transparency and accountability” in

the functions of the ISC around the formation and choosing of a national council on gender-based violence and femicide. 

The report also advises that the ISC mandate be extended, “with clear time frames and targets set to assist in some of the critical processes such as [the] implementation of the NSP and the formation of the NCGBVF. The declaration of the GBV summit must guide this work.”

Meanwhile, The Gender-based Violence Response Fund 1 has received R128-million in support from the private sector since its launch on 4 February this year.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a junior daily news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She was previously a freelance journalist and a broadcaster at Maroela Media and Smile90.4FM.

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