As South Africa embraces 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, employers are reminded to make workplaces safer environments for employees.
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said South Africa adopted a policy supported by the Employment Equity Act No 55 of 1998.
This policy aims to make workplaces safe environments that are free of sexual harassment.
“The code encourages and promotes the development and implementation of policies and procedures that will lead to the creation of workplaces that are free of sexual harassment, where employers and employees respect one another’s integrity and dignity, their privacy, and their right to equity in the workplace.”
The theme for this years' 16 days of Activism is: ‘Economic Justice for a Non-Violent and Non-Sexist South Africa’.
“This theme signals our belief that women’s economic empowerment is integral to the achievement of gender equality and the eradication of Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF).”
Minister Pandor also highlighted the difficulties that Covid-19 has created, as many women stopped going to the workplace everyday.
“It has simultaneously ushered in new challenges in the world of work. In the context of lockdowns, it has reshaped where work happens expanding where violence can take place in both the formal and informal economies.”
Many women experienced abuse in their homes during the national lockdown.
Police Minister, Bheki Cele said more than 2 000 cases of gender based violence were reported during the first week of the lockdown. This is a 30% increase in gender based violence, compared to the same period in 2019.
“We have read, heard and seen the increasing violence targeted at women in their homes during a time when homes were supposed to be places of safety under lockdown."
“This led to President Ramaphosa recognising the devastating increase in violence and femicide perpetrated against women and children and declaring it a national pandemic that is ravaging the South African society.”
Minister Pandor said sometimes women are forced to leave their workplace of home as they try to escape harassment.
The government hopes to use 16 Days of Activism to create more awareness about the issues faced by women and children.