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How do we create a healthy society that respects women?

By September 12, 2019November 18th, 2019118 Comments
women's rights

Early behaviours need to be challenged  – amongst our peers, in our social groups, in our communities, our churches and in our cultural groups. How do we turn it around? See our tips for being the change we want to see. Turn this triangle around by SPEAKING UP on the small things that happen around us every day. We are the people that must lead personal and community responses.   

We asked our team what they would do to stop GBV. The issue of fear came up prominently. Other themes are calling out unacceptable behaviour, and the importance of role modelling and parenting to change our world. 

Here is what our colleagues will do to create a society where the values of the Freedom Charter and our Constitution can be upheld and be made real, also for women in our country. 

About fear

“There have often been situations when you feel very vulnerable and fearful of a potential situation. For example, getting an Uber early in the morning on your own to the airport when the driver is male. I often feel fear associated with this as there is the ‘what if’ question. I know a lot of my friends feel similar and share similar fears, some shaped by their lived experience and others by living through others experiences. For me the fear is a barrier to claiming life fully; it’s inhibiting and dilutes the true realisation of self-dignity.  But how can we deny this fear with such violence towards women perpetrated in various forms every minute of the day. It’s real. For me, it would be what can I do to alleviate this fear. Today I don’t have this answer but I have self-awareness of this fear and am working on it.”

“I have become completely untrusting of men and even if I get in a lift I size up the man in the lift if I am on my own. I hate walking in garages. I watch behind me all the time. I hardly trust any strange man. I miss the freedom of walking unafraid and not having to look behind me. I miss the freedom to trust another just for being human.  I miss the ability to befriend a stranger and share a laugh and a space of ubuntu – now I don’t want to give the wrong impression or draw attention. This freedom is possible and I have experienced it before in other countries. This freedom is completely shut down for women in South Africa. We need to be free to walk.”

About activism and speaking up

“I have decided I will do much more challenging than I am already doing. I need to find more courage and I will.”

“I try to call out small behaviour that I see in the lives of the men around me. For example, if there is a ‘boys’ WhatsApp group where they share pornographic content which is seen as ‘innocent’, I verbalise how it frames women as sex objects and warps the expectations of sex.”

About supporting good men

“I actually feel really sorry for good men as it must be so hard to navigate this space. Many many many good men exist out there across all ages and races and economic divides. They also need our allegiance and support.”

About role modelling and parenting

“As a man, I am aware of how much pain and suffering toxic masculinity (and other deep male psychological wounds) has caused and is causing. I feel very sad that men continue to treat women in these ways. I am aware I need to do my best to embody and promote healthy masculinity that is nurturing, emotionally intelligent, open and gentle. I have two young sons, and it is of massive importance to me that they learn a positive and nurturing form of masculinity which respects women entirely. I actually strongly believe that women are superior to men in many ways and that often, men who are violent or disrespectful towards women are acting out of a sense of inferiority.

So in my boys, I want to nurture a sense of respect for themselves as human beings, so that they also may treat all humans with dignity and respect no matter their gender, sex, socio-economic status, race, sexual orientation etc. I am aware of how important my views and behaviour toward women is as a model for them. I try to be the best role model for them, and to ensure they are around other good role models.“

“What can I do? Speak to each and every man I know and trust and be a trusted ally. Bring my son up to protect women and understand these bigger issues.  Find ways to support young men and boys who have no father figures and whose deep woundedness needs healing. I honestly feel boys and young men need so much support, love and effort as this is where the root cause of the problem stems from. I want to also find ways to support programmes and nonprofits working in this space with young men.”

Practical tips to change our world

tips to protect women


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