The National Council for Gender-based Violence in South Africa, which will lead and monitor the implementation of a 365 Days Plan of Action against gender-based violence for Children and People with Disabilities, will be launched on Saturday.
The launch of the council, which is a high level, multi-sectoral national response to the scourge of gender-based violence, follows Cabinet approval for its establishment on 25 December 2011.
The council will be chaired by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, will be its champion.
Announcing the launch on Wednesday during a post-Cabinet briefing, Xingwana said through the council, government was taking the war against gender-based violence to a higher level.
“As government, we acknowledge that the levels of gender-based violence in our country are unacceptably high and we are confident that the work of the council will lead to a significant reduction in the incidents of violence against women and children,” Xingwana said.
The council has been charged with the following responsibilities to drive the implementation of the 365 Days National Plan and advise government on policy and intervention programmes; strengthen national partnerships in the fight against gender-based violence; create and strengthen international partnerships on gender-based violence; and monitor and report progress on initiatives aimed at addressing gender-based violence.
According to the statistics announced last year by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, the combined figures of all sexual offences, including rape and indecent assault, indicate an upward trend of 2.1% in 2010/11 compared to 2009/10.
Cases of murder of women increased by 5.6% and sexual offences against children increased by 2.6% during this period.
Xingwana said the council is envisaged to have 45 members with a dedicated secretariat located in the department. The members will be appointed for a period of two to three years.
“We have ensured that council is as representative as possible to enable us to draw from the diverse expertise, views and experience of various stakeholders. There will also be observers from key organisations such as the Commission on Gender Equality, United Nations bodies, research institutions, donor partners and experts.”
Sectors represented in the council will include civil society organisations dealing with violence against women and children, religious organisations, traditional leadership, women's movement, academic and research institutions and government across all spheres and the South African Local Government Association.