VODACOM LEADS THE PACK IN FIGHTING GENDER BASED VIOLENCE IN MZANSI

VODACOM LEADS THE PACK IN FIGHTING GENDER BASED VIOLENCE IN MZANSI

Micheala Fosi

Keabetswe Mofokeng

Thabiso Shai

Noxolo Feela

Believe it or not! In a drive to wrestle gender based violence in public schools and the entire society, giant cell phone network provider, Vodacom has proved to be the trailblazer in addressing this immoral scourge.

This time around they have joined forces with government and launched a new ecosystem to tackle this plague.

According to Vodacom, appalling acts of Gender Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) inflicted on women, children and members of the LGBTQI+ community are reversing the strides made in gender equality since the dawning of Mzansi’s  democracy and threatens the foundation of the country’s fledgling egalitarianism.

They also acknowledged, consensus among experts that to eradicate all forms of gender-based violence, it will require strong collaboration between government and the private sector.

During a recent launch held at their headquarters   in the spirit of collaboration, the Vodacom Foundation, the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Social Development  announced a new private public partnership initiative: the launch of a new ecosystem, aimed at using public schools as platforms to tackle GBVF in society.

This initiative is expected to roll out fully trained Social Workers to schools to have individual intervention sessions with learners, teachers, School Governing Bodies (SGB’s), youth and women formations.

At the launch it was also revealed, this Vodacom-led initiative was first conceptualised in 2019 when the Department of Basic Education  made a plea to Vodacom to provide psycho-social support in schools due to the high prevalence of gender-based violence.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, External Affairs Director for Vodacom South Africa told the media she was giving the initiative 6 out 10 on a richter scale.

She also emphasised it was a journey to eradicate social ills in society and believed that partnerships especially with government and civil society works wonders.

 “We are collaborating with government and civil society in finding innovative solutions to some of the pressing socio-economic challenges afflicting  society today. As a pioneer in the field of GBV, it was important that as we accelerate our GBV ecosystem that we looked at deploying a solution that would incorporate the schooling system.

“ Schools are an extension of the community; in fact, they are the cornerstone of communities. It is a space where learners, educators, parents and community members in general converge. It is a space where learners should feel safe but very often don’t. It is a space where learners and educators spend the majority of their time so it makes sense to target it as a platform that can be used to educate and influence change. Collaboration with social partners is also an opportunity for us to learn more about all forms of gender-based violence from gender experts and how to effectively provide support, Netshitenzhe argued.”

“In our view, in order to drive a systematic change in society, we thought it best to use institutions of learning, targeting young learners whilst they are still in their formative years to influence them positively. Our long-term view is to nurture young-minds, so they become change agents and play an active role in ridding our society of gender violence,” She said.

Key note speaker, Minister Of Social Development,  Lindiwe Zulu, echoed the same sentiment that partnership works wonders.

 “There is no way that we can tackle the scourge of GBV alone as government. We need business and civic bodies as partners to effectively deal with gender violence in society because working together we can always do better.

“ As a department, we commend the good work that Vodacom is doing in the GBV space, and we would like to appeal to other organisations to partner with us in the fight against the gender violence.”

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The programme commenced in April 2021 in Gauteng, KZN and Mpumalanga provinces where 10 social workers were placed.
  • Presently, the social workers are working in 17 schools covering roughly 14 000 learners. An additional 10 social workers will start in the coming months and will be placed in Limpopo, Free State and Northern Cape provinces.
  • Vodacom Foundation plans to add ten social workers every financial year to do this work.
  • According to UN Women, an estimated 736 million women across the world — almost one in three — have been subjected to intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life. This statistic does not even include sexual harassment.
  • Mzansi’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa  is on record arguing that , GBVF has reached worrying levels in South Africa. One in four women will experience violence by men and are five times more likely to be killed.
  • Ramaphosa has described gender-based violence as the “second major pandemic” we face in South Africa today.
  • According to the UN, school-related gender-based violence is a major obstacle to universal schooling and the right to education for girls. Globally, one in three students, aged 11–15, have been bullied by their peers at school at least once in the past month. Girls are more likely to experience psychological bullying and have reported being made fun of because of their physical appearances, more frequently than boys.
  • Social Workers to be dispatched to public schools have received special training from Stellenbosch University.
  • The training focused on specific modules that cover GBV, bullying, self-esteem and violence.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BY Nie Cele and THE SYDNEY MASEKO JOURNALISM CADETS.

Takalani’s pic sourced from GOOGLE

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