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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU National Strategic Plan of Action for 16th Days of Activism against Gender Based Campaign 2014

24 November 2014

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence is an international campaign that starts on 25 November, International Day for the Eradication of Violence against Women, and ends on 10 December, which is an International Human Rights Day. The campaign is aiming to globally raise awareness on gender-based violence as a human rights violation.

Due to the escalation of violence internationally and nationally we have witnessed gender-based violence in all areas - from homes to workplaces. Women and children find themselves being used as bargaining tools during negotiations in areas of conflict. The labour federation in this year’s 16th days will be running its campaign around theme “From peace in the home to peace in the world: Let’s challenge militarism and end violence against women” which is an international theme carried over from the 2013 campaign. The campaign will be run in the context of the connections between gender-based violence based on geographic location, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, economic and social rights. The labour movement will run seminars, dialogues, workshops, etc to share experience and strategies on how women should have preventative mechanisms and be able to respond to violence, inequality and discrimination experienced by women across the globe.

Other Key dates to consider:-
25 November - International Day of No Violence Against Women
1 December - World Aids Day;
3 December - International Day for the Disabled;
10 December – International Human Rights Day
· Capacity Building on issues of international interest and the plight of women across the globe
· To raise awareness on women to understand their rights and the vicious cycle of violence that they find themselves trapped in
· To raise awareness on gender-based violence as a trade union and human rights issue at local, national, regional and international levels
· To create an environment for building solidarity and networking among women across the borders to raise our voice to end sexual and gender-based violence
· Strengthening the federation work around violence against women
· Providing a platform of sharing the plight of the LGBTI workers and develop new and efficient strategies of combating discrimination faced by these particular sector of workers
· To collaborate and enhance partnership with other organisations NGOs working on GBV and develop strategies and action plan

During 16th Days of Activism COSATU will be running seminars, workshops and dialogues, empowering and raising awareness on members, with a special focus on women, more especially young women, on the importance of national and international solidarity and the role of women in solidarity actions, but also with the intention of strengthening the Federation’s campaign on international solidarity and building consciousness on women on international issues.

The focus themes will be around:

“Building international solidarity and unity to end violence against women and children: a call to action”

Promoting international solidarity against gender based violence

Building knowledge and skills around the rights of LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex)

Fighting homophobia and GBV in the workplace and within the community

The focus will be on the following:-

#BringBackOurGirls – Nigeria

It’s a global campaign initiated by Few Nigerian Partisans women after 276 Nigerian School Girls ranging in age from 15-19 years were abducted at a state school in Chibok just before their school exams by a notorious, militant and terrorist Islamist extremists group called themselves Boko Haram on 14th April 2014.The girls were targeted by group for participation in the state-run, non-qu’ranic education.
The campaign was later joined by Nigerian high profile and international organisations media and civil society. The catch name #BringBackOurGirls was agreed upon to rally against the barbaric act, patriarchy, disrespect of the state and community, girls` access to education and their wellbeing.

Objectives and aims of the campaign:
· To attract international attention on the plight of the girls

· Those in power to take safe, effective and efficient actions to urgently rescue, release and safely return of the abducted girls

· Tracking down terrorist acts and bringing back the girls safely

· Rapidly rescuing the girls before more harm comes their way in the confinement of the brutal and sexually immoral terrorist group

About seven months since the Islamic extremists kidnapped 276 schoolgirls, the notorious gang has since gone on a killing spree and took control of Chibok and neighbouring areas and villages. One of their demands is for the president of Nigeria to release detained extremists in exchange for the girls. 57 of the girls have managed to escape whilst others are still trapped.

On 10th November 2014 explosion at a boys` school assembly at the Government Science Secondary that killed 46 students in the Northern Nigerian Town of Potiskum, by a suicide bomber dressed as a student. Boko Haram is waging a campaign to prevent children from attending western schools; boys should only attend an Islamic education and girls are not supposed to be educated. The attack left 79 students wounded.

Palestine women

As COSATU we are quite perturbed by the ongoing civil strife in Gaza. Our concern is for the women and children of Palestine who are suffering violence, lack of basic services and foodstuff as a result of the blockade mounted by Israel. We support the call for a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Palestine.

Western Sahara

We support the call for the recognition of Western Sahara as a country. We call on all democratic formations across the globe to support the provision of access to social services such as health and education to Western Sahara as the people who suffer most from the apartheid of Morocco in that region disadvantages mostly women and men. Free Western Sahara.

Dominican Republic

On 25th November 1960 three sisters from the Hermanas Mirabal family of the Dominican Republic were brutally assassinated by the Dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo because of their strong political views against the cruel dictatorship, oppressive leadership and arbitrary use of power. The Mirabal sisters, together with their husbands, openly resisted the conformity and stood out as national heroines and heroes, in defiance of brutality against the people of the Dominican Republic. Early November in 1960, Trujillo declared that his two problems were the Church and the Mirabal sisters. The three sisters were assassinated on their way to visit their husbands in prison who were detained by Trujillo’s regime.
“Rafael Trujillo’s Era was one of the bloodiest ever in the Americas, because of his dictatorship and tyrannical ruling thousands of people were killed under his authority”
In 1999 UN National General Assembly gave recognition to three sisters and honoured them by designating November 25 as an International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The Assembly passed the Resolution to campaign on the Elimination of Violence against Women to highlight the scourge of violence and raise awareness on all forms of violence that women of the globe experience on a daily basis i.e. rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment.

The resolution clearly outlined the General Assembly’s concern and recognised that violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of equality, development and peace. Violence against women historically manifest from patriarchy, unequal power relations, crucial social mechanisms, which have led to inequality, domination and discrimination. The continuous failure to protect and promote the human rights of women and children derail women full enjoyment of freedom.

The resolution goes beyond and identifies sectors which are more vulnerable to violence and which need urgent special attention and focus i.e.
- Women in minority groups
- Indigenous women
- Refugee women
- Migrant women
- Women living in rural or remote communities
- Destitute women
- Women in institutions or in detention
- The girl child
- Women with disabilities
- Senior citizens
- Women in situations of armed conflict

Therefore women and gender activists around the globe have been commemorating the violent assassination of the Mirabel sisters (Patricia, Minerwa and Maria Teressa)
South Africa
The campaign has been profiled and has gained momentum to generate increased awareness of the impact of violence; the campaign has been extended to 365 days in order to efficiently enhance the campaign. The special focus on children has been added by the South African government to the 365 campaign against gender-based violence due to the high incidence of child abuse in the country. All stakeholders are committed in a coordination of awareness-raising to stop gender based violence.
In the present phase of the global transition violence against women is increasing badly therefore there is a strong need to strengthen the 16 days campaign

The South African National theme is: - Count me in: Together moving a non-violent South Africa Forward

The Department of Women’s approach this year is to collectively work with the civil society with the view to shift the stereotype that violence against women and children is just a government or criminal justice system problem but sensitise the community that gender-based violence is a societal challenge and that the society should work together in partnership to the total elimination of this scourge. Most importantly the department whilst running the campaign will also focus on the perpetrators and the real underlying root causes.

The federation and its trade unions

COSATU, believing that violence against women is a trade union and workplace issue, therefore emphasises the need to take a broad approach to combat this scourge of violence against women in the workplace, trade unions, locally, regionally and globally. Violence against women and children is a problem that needs to be addressed at different levels from national to international.

Protecting LGBTI workers against gender-based violence and discrimination

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons suffer more because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, community and across the globe, but because they are discriminated against have more limited access to protection services. It is the responsibility of every trade union and its members to ensure that the rights of the LGBTI workers are protected and promoted at all levels, that workers are educated on their rights and that discrimination based on sexual identity or orientation, hate speech and homophobic behaviour have no room and there is safety, tolerance and acceptance.

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Streets

P.O.Box 1019
South Africa

Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Fax: +27 11 339-6940
Mobile: +27 82 821 7456
E-Mail: patrick@cosatu.org.za