Department of Science and Technology, South Africa

Johannesburg

Saturday, 19 August 2017

 

A warm welcome to all our guests.

 

Recent events of violence have eclipsed the true intention of Womens month in South Africa.

 

It is a month in which we celebrate the courage of thousands of women who took on the awful might of the apartheid. Our important celebration of their actions and contribution to the struggle and to gender equity has been marred by several instances of violence against women, of racial violence and at times sheer hooliganism.

 

We have to begin to take a close look at ourselves and ask what has gone wrong, why is a month of celebration now of month of tragedy -

 

Violence against women, rape, murder and other physical, verbal and psychological abuse that women experience, mean that we have to work harder at creating a safer caring society with a concerted focus on womens safety and protection.

 

We have been talking about this problem for many years. We have developed a range of programmes, developed new laws since 1994 yet the scourge of violence seems increasingly brazen and difficult.

 

We have attempted to reflect on how our sector could contribute to identifying effective responses and solutions to what is clearly a deeply complex social challenge for South Africa.

 

As some often remind us these problems exist in other parts of the world, our concern however, is that they seem not to be incidental but are a deeply entrenched part of our social fabric.

 

It is our view that we have not paid attention to research work that has focused on these challenges and have allowed a body of potentially valuable and impactful research work to remain unexplored by policy makers and the public.

 

It is our hope that this symposium could become part of a wide outreach initiative to engage society and communities on what research is saying about violence and gender and what this tells us about South Africa’s people.

 

I hope you will find the symposium simulating as a new approach to tackling the terrible challenge of violence in our country.

 

I thank you.