THE private sector should partner government in the fight against gender-based violence (GBV) by investing in initiatives which ensure the practice is consigned to history, according to Vodacom Senior Specialist: Corporate Social Investments & Corporate Communications, Mpho Brown.
Mr Brown made the remarks at Tuesday’s launch of SOME of the participants in the Vodacom Foundation’s campaign against GBV engage in walk in Maseru on Tuesday. conjunction with the United States Embassy, European Union, United Nations as well as other corporate and civil society entities.
Held under the theme, “Unite for the Elimination of Violence against Women”, the campaign’s participants engaged in a walk around Maseru while wearing orange caps and shirts.
“The government is working strategically to end gender-based violence but, at the end of the day, the private sector needs to know they cannot achieve this goal alone,” Mr Brown said.
“That is why Vodacom has extended its outreach to corporations.”
Mr Brown said the foundation strives for the proportionate representation of women and men not only at the telecommunications giant, but also in communities.
“In addition to the foundation’s mandate to work towards building proportionate women to men representation in the workplace, our team is passionate about working towards imparting the same vision that would allow for financial inclusion for women,” he said.
Since its launch in 2010, the Vodacom Foundation has supported programmes that tackled challenges around peace and nation building, poverty and food insecurity, education, unemployment, economic development, gender equality and HIV and Aids.
At the same event, the Director of Gender in the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, Matau Futho Letsatsi, said their initiative to sensitise communities about GBV has continued to unearth entrenched cultural viewpoints sanctioning GBV.
As part of commemorations marking 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Ms Futho Letsatsi revealed the ministry has since deployed a bus destined for Thaba Tseka, Mokhotlong and Qacha districts whose occupants will be educated on the adverse effects of GBV and also encouraged to share their own experiences.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.
The 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organising strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women and raises awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue.
Ms Futho Letsatsi appealed to stakeholders in the educational and political spheres as well as government ministries to take a leadership in the fight against GBV regardless of the challenges encountered.
“We appeal to teachers to take a leadership role in cases where orphans are raped by fellow teachers, to women and youth in political parties to stand up against violence in political movements, for ministries to refrain from actions that result in the lowering of the standards of production and leave us poor, as well as the church leaders to act against GBV,” she said.
National Coordinator for Women and Law Southern Africa (WLSA), Libakiso Matlho, who commended Vodacom Lesotho for being the “first corporate company to partner with NGOs to address GBV” said communication was essential when rehabilitating victims.
“Since the legal process itself takes a while, in addition to the reluctance of victims to easily talk about their situation at times, the onus to ensure that every step of the process is fulfilled rests upon us,” said Advocate Matlho.
“WLSA has the onerous task of ensuring the initial process of reporting to the police to finally explaining every legal aspect of court procedures is communicated with the victim.”