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Business and donor communities have pledged support to a response fund aimed at supporting the implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP), and the wider Gender-Based Violence and Femicide response in the country.

Various businesses and stakeholders pledged support during the launch of Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) Response Fund on Thursday.

President Ramaphosa launched the fund, which is a fulfilment of a resolution of the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Declaration which followed the GBVF Summit held in 2018.

Speaking at the virtual launch, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) CEO, Cas Coovadia, said that GBV is a critical issue which needs to be dealt with.

“We need to look at GBV within the context of other gender-based injustices in our country and the world, including issues of equity for women and patriarchy that still persists, not just in South Africa but in the world,” Coovadia said.

Coovadia said BUSA is committed to promote the fund initiative with its members, and to work with government and other stakeholders, to ensure that they have various methods of communications with members to raise funding for the work on GBV.

“We all appreciate that we are living in a difficult time, with the COVID-19 pandemic [which] has had a significant impact on our economy, but this is an issue that we need to ensure that we promote, and BUSA is committed to work to promote it with our members,” said Coovadia.

BUSA will also ensure that its members introduce measures to identify and deal with GBV in the workplace.

“We need to identify, we need to deal with it, and ultimately, we need to eradicate it in the workplaces.”

Impediment to economic development

Meanwhile, Black Business Council President Sandile Zungu said it cannot be that more than 50% of the country’s population is born into, and raised in an environment that does not fully appreciates them.

“GBV is a tool that men cowardly use to subjugate women, it is wrong, it is evil. GBV is not just a matter for human rights, it is a major impediment to economic development. The giant economy that South Africa is, will never punch at his weight when its muscles are restrained by the scourge of GBV.

“Fighting GBV is a business imperative, it must be done [and] hence we support this noble effort. We support the private sector effort at creating a fund to champion the course of women, we urge South African corporates to support the GBVF Response Fund with generous contributions, both financially and in kind,” Zungu said.

Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in South, Dr Nardos Bekele-Thomas commended President Ramaphosa for his exemplary leadership in the fight against GBVF.

Harnessing the NSP

Bekele-Thomas said since the GBV Summit held in 2018, South Africa has established a comprehensive, holistic and ambitious National Strategic Plan (NSP).

However, she noted that the country is still facing enormous implementation challenges, in particular, consistency in prevention and response services and a lack of reliable and comprehensive data.

“I’m happy that South Africa is embarking on its first ever dedicated GBV national prevalence survey and I’m proud that the United Nations is participating in this endeavour. The most critical and urgent challenge is the subject of today’s event, which is harnessing the NSP.

“It is in all our interest to be actively engaged in creating the future society we want, free of violence. Through the UN, the private sector already has strong partnerships to be formed. Eighty-five companies in South Africa are signatories of the women empowerment principals of the UN Global Compact,” Bekele-Thomas said.

Bekele-Thomas added that the UN, together with the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, and business, are currently exploring the idea of establishing a gender board to finance women empowerment programmes.

“As a representative of the UN Secretary-General in South Africa, I commit the support of the entire UN system towards the implementation of the NSP. We understand that this is not the business for the single agency, but the business of the entire US system, simply because we understand the nature of the problem,” she said.

Ana Fasulakis from the International Womens Forum said the launch of the fund recognises that the lives of women and girls’ matters.

“This is a response to the plight of women and children across the country who live in fear and die due to GBV. It’s time for action and measurable results to end the GBV pandemic in South Africa.”


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