By Celeste Barker (MPL), Provincial chairperson: DA Women’s Network:
The DA Women’s Network in the Eastern Cape will hold its provincial Women’s Day event at the Jarman Hall in Schauderville, Port Elizabeth from 10:00 this morning.
The Democratic Alliance Women’s Network pickets for gender justice because South Africa is a stunning country but we are struggling against a socio-economic heritage of inequality, selective justice and unfairness.
We have one of the best constitutions in the world but battle to translate the paper rights of our constitution into real rights for South African women.
For example, black rural women remain the most marginalised, excluded, poor population group in South Africa. We have the highest rape rate in the world (one in three daily), the incidence of femicide is high (three women are murdered by their intimate partners daily in South Africa) and gender based violence is out of control.
History shows that people have the power to change society, to topple unjust governments and to secure justice.
For these reasons, Dawn in the Eastern Cape is an activist organisation. We stand for constitutional justice and women’s rights, we protect the rights enshrined in our Bill of Rights and we do so peacefully and silently when a crime against a woman rocks our province with horror, pain and outrage.
We believe that violence begets violence, so we picket in dignified silence because public humiliation and exposure is a deterrent and picketing in a group is a positive, non-violent and empowering tool to highlight gender based violence and to “be the change we want to see in the world” (Gandhi).
We are building structures that will inexorably transform the patriarchal, violent, sometimes misogynistic and often lawless culture in South Africa.
This is a dehumanising culture that robs us of our dignity. It entrenches a fear-filled, silenced climate and commodifies our bodies to cattle class and broodstock status.
In many ways South African instances of gender based violence — including rape, femicide, human trafficking, verbal, emotional and physical abuse — repeat the unfair, unfree, unequal, abusive history of the slave trade and the reduction of South African women’s humanity to tradable goods and animal status.
South African women do not enjoy full constitutional rights. We are kept behind trellidoors and panic buttons for safety’s sake. This culture supports unfairness, limited freedom and limited opportunities. South African women are imprisoned at home. Our fundamental paper right to equality is unreal and obstructed.
South African women are powerful. The success of the anti-apartheid struggle and our phenomenal constitution testifies to this history or let’s rather say this “her story”!
One day our grandchildren and their daughters will be proud of their goggo’s contribution to social transformation, freedom, fairness and equal opportunities for all.
East Cape Dawn is contributing to building a rights-based, safe, non-violent South Africa.
Join us. We protect you because we insist on constitutional democracy for every single woman in our province regardless of her status or the circumstances of her birth.