GBVF Messaging Workshop
– Simangaliso Motsepe
From 14-15 August 2023, the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) hosted a two-day Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) Messaging Workshop in Johannesburg, to capacitate GBVF Ambassadors, Social Workers, and Communicators on what, and how, to communicate GBVF issues in communities, whilst aligning with the objectives of the National Strategic Plan for GBVF, as well as the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV, TB, and STIs: 2023-2028.
The development of targeted messaging around GBVF was the result of a collaborative partnership between SANAC; National Institute Community Development and Management (NICDAM); the National Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities; Flow Communications; and several other entities and individuals who jointly committed to addressing and reversing GBVF in South Africa. Extensive collaboration and consultation with key partners, SANAC, NICDAM, GBVF ambassadors and social workers who actively advocate and mobilise communities in the GBVF hotspots across the country was crucial to inform the development of this messaging.
Gender-based violence and femicide has been part of the South African social context for decades. It’s rooted in historical apartheid policies and underpinned by high levels of inequality, poverty, racism, unequal gender power relations, and hostility to sexual and gender diversity. The country holds the shameful distinction of being one of the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman, with the highest rates of intimate partner violence, rape, and sexual violence.
Speaking at the workshop, SANAC Technical Lead for HIV Social and Structural Drivers, Ms. Nozuko Majola said, “Ambassadors should act firm on issues and be real activists, especially in the work you do for communities in order to drive change.” The theme of the workshop focused on liberation, economic realities, toxic masculinity, gender roles, toxicity in religion, bystander syndrome and the justice system, etc., which were discussed in detail in order to enhance and educate the communicators who participated in the training.
Some of the key issues that discussed at the workshop centred around safe and constructive gender dynamics which gave more perspective on how to handle GBV when dealing with family. These dynamics include, having respect towards each other as partners, working as a team to support the family, being willing to talk about problems with each other, taking decisions with your partner, and finally showing love and gratitude for what the other person does in the relationship.
The messaging as shared in the workshop were devised to equip the GBVF ambassadors and social workers with a set of viable, applicable, relevant, and accessible messages to take into communities; to broadcast on media and to communicate on any and all available platforms when engaging about GBVF. Participants who attended the workshop included representatives from NICDAM, SAPWA, Community of Hope Multi-Purpose Centre, Gugu Dlamini Foundation, FWI, Emasisweni Foundation, and were graced by a speaker from People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA).