The University of Johannesburg’s division of Community Engagement held a Women’s day Conference on the 25th August 2017 at Auckland Park Madibeng Council Chambers with the theme entitled: Twenty 17 Conference on Gender Based Violence.
The conference’s panel of Gender Based Violence (GBV) experts came from a number of UJ faculties and divisions as well as the NGO sector and included, Dr Pinkie Mekgwe, Executive Director: Internationalisation (UJ), Prof Shahana Rasool, Head of Department of Social Work (UJ), Prof Shanaaz Mathews (UCT), Dr Corne Davies, Senior Lecturer at Department of Strategic Communication (UJ) and Mr Sidwell Sehoana from POWA- Adapt.
The participants attending the conference ranged from students and staff members to UJ’s faculties and support divisions, as well as representatives from UJ’s community partners and councillors. The keynote address was given by Mrs Pilisiwe Twala–Tau (former mayoral first lady) who emphasised that women should be proud of who they are and must work together to fight the injustice facing women.
Prof Matthews spoke about femicide noting that SA has the highest rate of women killings by intimate partners. ‘’In South Africa more than half of the women murdered in 2009 (56%) were killed by intimate partners. It’s very sad that women are still killed by intimate partners.’’
Prof Mekgwe encouraged all participants to critique the media and its representation. ‘’It must be done in such a way that there is responsibility and ethics involved,’’ she added.
The conference included seven break away sessions where women from different sectors were able to talk about various topics related to GBV. Some of the topics included domestic violence/abuse, GBV medical implications, positive behaviour intervention and support, sexual violence in and out of school, and GBV legal implications. For many, this was healing process and helped create an understanding of what to do moving forward.