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365 days of action to end gender violence

An important conference was held in South Africa from the 3-5 May 2006. A follow up to the Sixteen Days of Activism campaign that runs from 25 November to 10 December, the conference was the first attempt to stretch this campaign into a structured year-long campaign with tangible outcomes that can be used to measure progress under the banner: 365 days of action to end gender violence.

Conceived by government and civil society partners, the conference harnessed the momentum generated by a number of significant commemorations in 2006: the fact that this year will be the sixteenth year of the sixteen days campaign; that it is the tenth anniversary of the Constitution and the fiftieth anniversary of the march by women to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956. Some 260 members of all sectors of government and civil society attended the conference, which ended with the signing of the Kopanong Declaration, setting in motion a plan of action to turn the 16 days of activism into a year-long campaign, beginning on 25 November 2006. For more information, see the Gender Links website

Kopanong Declaration: 365 days of action to end gender violence
We the participants at this watershed conference to agree on a coordinated and comprehensive approach to ending violence against women and children;

Consisting, as we do, of 260 representatives from all spheres of government; constitutional bodies; civil society; business; unions; faith-based organisations; traditional authorities and international cooperating partners including United Nations Agencies;

Concerned, that ten years after our Constitution came into force and despite the ratification of several international human rights instruments the rights of people who suffer gender violence are still daily violated;

Convinced that the Age of Hope depends on all South Africans living in an environment where they are free from fear and able to exercise and enjoy their full human rights;

Aware that the Sixteen Days of Activism campaign needs to be sustained all year around; Recommit ourselves to the following fundamental provisions of the Constitution:

  • The equality clause which outlaws unfair discrimination on grounds of race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.
  • The right to human dignity.
  • The clause on freedom and security of the person which states that everyone has the right to “bodily and psychological integrity”. This includes the right to make decisions concerning reproduction; to security and control over one’s body and to dignity.
  • Socio-economic rights such as right to adequate housing, health care services, food, water and social security.
  • The statement that in cases where customary law or any law conflicts with the Constitution, the Constitution takes precedence.

Commit ourselves to finalising a detailed action plan whose overarching objectives are to:

  • Strengthen and place far greater emphasis on prevention through forging effective partnerships with all stakeholders, including schools, parents associations, community based organisations, the media, local government, traditional and religious leaders and the private sector; as well as develop criteria for monitoring the effectiveness of such campaigns.
  • Ensure men work together with women in eliminating patriarchy.
  • Create a safe physical environment.
  • Promote a holistic, empowerment approach to eradicating violence against women and children that takes account of the intersection of race, class, location, disability and sexuality and of the role of poverty and economic inequality in fuelling this scourge.
  • Eradicate violence against women and children in a targeted and measured way over the coming decade, based on baseline data on sexual offenses, domestic violence, sexual harassment, hate crimes and identity based violence to be established as part of the action plan.
  • Develop, enact and implement a comprehensive legislative framework that gives effect to the rights of all citizens especially women and children to be free from gender based violence; cost the laws in place and develop business plans, for their implementation.
  • Ensure an integrated case management system operating on minimum standards with a view to reduce cycle times and increase conviction rates of perpetrators of gender violence.
  • Eliminate secondary victimisation by improving services to survivors of gender violence and ensure that every survivor has access to comprehensive treatment, victim friendly care that is standardised and coordinated between the various service providers.
  • Provide effective support and help to empower survivors of gender violence to reclaim their lives and dignity; as well as to rehabilitate perpetrators.
  • Put in place effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

We further commit to ensuring that the following priority actions, at a minimum, are taken before the 2006 Sixteen Day campaign that starts on 25 November 2006:

  • The Sexual Offences Bill is passed after a further round of public comment.
  • The Children’s Bill is passed as part of the development, promulgation, resourcing and implementation of legislation and policy to effectively prevent and respond to violence against children harmonised with international conventions, standards and norms.
  • An audit of all specialised services (forensic clinic services, one- stop centres, Victim Empowerment Centres etc) is conducted to determine what exists and to develop a best practice model.
  • A strategy is developed for the management of sexual offences including the establishment of sexual offences courts, with participation of NGO service providers.
  • The drafting of a joint, integrated training plan on violence against women and children and a body to co-ordinate the above.
  • Development of implementation plans for all existing policies and procedures on gender violence including the National Policy on Sexual Assault Care Practice. This should include provincial and civil society representation and should have a strong public education and awareness component.
  • Formulate a policy framework on partnerships between government and non-governmental organisations in the provision of shelters and places of safety to include all stakeholders, including local government.
  • Canvass the draft action plan extensively with all stakeholders, especially those not represented at this conference, and those that have the capacity to ensure that this plan is effected at community level, such as local government, schools and traditional authorities.
  • Put in place the coordinating structure for the National Action Plan including a multi-sector task team comprising representatives of all the working committees and a Council of Deputy Ministers chaired by the Deputy Minister of Local Government as the champion of the Sixteen Day campaign.
  • Put in place a secretariat with the necessary technical support to ensure effective capacity and implementation.
  • Find mechanisms to ensure relevant disaggregated data; agree on key targets and baselines for the effective monitoring and evaluation of the action plan; and put in place a computerised tracking system to be developed with assistance from the Department of Treasury.
  • Finalise the short term action plan for the next six months by June and receive any additional inputs for the medium term

We commit to collective resource mobilisation to ensure that these actions are taken. We will hold each other mutually accountable for the actions we have pledged to ensure that every woman and child in our nation is able to enjoy the rights to which they are entitled by our Constitution. Agreed this 5th day of May 2006.