Lindsay Northover: Violence against women and girls – change is in the air

Baroness Northover
Baroness Northover

If you were to ask me for a country that has undergone real change in the last quarter of a century, I would be hard pushed to think of a greater example than South Africa.

I’ve been to South Africa a few times, the first in 1989. Since then, the country has come a very long way. It has become an economic powerhouse and a country with which the UK now has a relationship of mutual cooperation – sharing knowledge, expertise and skills, rather than providing aid.

And yet, like every other country, South Africa still faces challenges. To galvanise action on the international day for the elimination of violence against women and girls last week, I went back to South Africa to look at the causes and extent of gender-based violence and inequality.

50% of women in South Africa have experienced violence. And a shocking 39% of men admit to having carried out acts of violence against women.

Yet on this issue, too, things are starting to change.

The first thing that struck me was how passionate and committed local civil society organisations were in their work to end violence against women and girls. Many of these organisations are leaders in gender development policy not only in South Africa, but across the continent.

One of these organisations is GenderLinks, a coalition of civil society groups promoting gender equality across Southern Africa.

I was a privileged to meet a dedicated group of campaigners from Genderlinks, including a survivor who had been raped 3 times, on the last occasion contracting HIV.

Lindsay’s full DFID blog post is available here


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