Yesterday, the Gender-Based Violence Summit started in Pretoria, bringing together organisations, activists and government to address gender-based violence in South Africa. We are excited as this two-day summit was one of the demands following #TheTotalShutdown march which took place on 1 August.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the summit, saying ‘Our objective must be to bring these high rates to zero; we must aim for a femicide rate of zero per 100 000 women’.  The Daily Vox spoke to several gender activists who were not entirely convinced. Catherine Busisiwe Seabe (Black Womxn Caucus) was quoted as saying that ‘The entire first day is about government responding to the demands but they haven’t responded – and are not taking us seriously. I want to see resolutions that have time stamps and have people who will take responsibility’.

In this EWN video by Sethembiso Zulu, activists held a silent protest, holding up women’s underwear and calling for action against perpetrators during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s keynote speech. The summit also included the retelling of accounts of sexual violence and discrimination from survivors.

The power of women organising 

Nyiko Shwikwambane (Civil Society Voice) said the following about the power of civil society spaces, movement-building and learning:

‘These same young women and gender non-comforming persons then go into higher institutions of learning and march in the streets from 2015, 2016 under the banner #FeesMustFall. We are still here … This is what civil society as a space has done. It has become our school. It has become our way of learning. Spaces where we have created a language, a culture for ourselves through movement-building, and through organising. Welcome to our school, government.’

The activist also tweeted:


Activists also called for government to release Martha Marumo, a woman incarcerated after killing her abusive husband. ‘If we can set one woman free who was wrongly imprisoned for defending herself against GBV, then I would believe this Summit has done its job.’ – Seabe.

Activist Naledi Chirwa (Former EFF National Student Command spokesperson) conveyed that President Ramaphosa did not do enough to address the demands of #TheTotalShutdown march:

‘Cyril Ramaphosa got the demands on August 1, he’s coming back on November 1 but not even telling us how far along he is implementing them,’ she said. She also tweeted:


In addition, members of the Gauteng Community Health Care Forum and members of the Simunye Women’s Forum protested outside the venue. According to The Daily Vox, the Forum’s Lillian Nhlapo said that the summit excludes women in the rural areas and townships. ‘We are being violated. I know what is violence. We are here and we are crying out because we want to be heard. You can’t have a Summit and say it’s national but it’s excluding people.’

On The Total Shutdown Facebook Page, yesterday’s press release outlined five non-negotiable demands:

1. Declare the pandemic of GBV to a national disaster.
2. Constitute a national multi-sector council on GBV.
3. Mandate the above national council to develop a National Strategy Plan (NSP) on the eradication of GBV.
4. Fast-track legislating the decriminalisation of sex work.
5. Targeted national training programme for all public servants and political leaders on patriarchy and womxn’s rights.

The summit continues today with this agenda:


Follow @WomenProtestSA on Twitter for updates.

H/T  The Daily Vox