Written by Thenjiwe Ngcobo: Executive Director & The Founder of INCEMA
Introduction: In the heart of Plessislaer, Pietermaritzburg, the echoes of change reverberated during the launch of the “I am a MAN” campaign, a powerful initiative by Incema and Voice and Choice Partners as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. The event unfolded as a testament to collective efforts, challenging stereotypes, fostering inclusivity, and inspiring a united front against GBV.
Amplifying Voices of Men: The campaign sought to redefine the narrative by actively engaging men in the fight against GBV. Men from diverse backgrounds joined hands, expressing their commitment through poignant posters, heartfelt videos, and vocal pledges on-site. This marked a pivotal moment in dismantling stereotypes and encouraging men to take an active stance against violence.
Inclusive Support: A key highlight was the commitment to providing inclusive support. Plessislaer station commander, recognizing the need for non-discriminatory assistance, allocated two senior officials to oversee inclusive access to services. This step underscored the importance of creating a safe space for all victims, irrespective of gender, race, or classification.
Solidarity Amid Challenges: The event faced its share of challenges, including load shedding and an extremely hot weather. However, the spirit of solidarity prevailed. Despite the hurdles, connections were forged with partners from other countries and provinces. A resonant message from ROOTS Africa, delivered by Tinotenda Matenda, uplifted spirits, emphasizing the significance of collective action.
On-site Services and stakeholder Engagement: A unique aspect of the event was the provision of on-site services. Medical, legal, psycho-social, and support services were made available, thanks to the active participation of local stakeholders. Organizations such as ITeach, Health Systems Trust, Harry Gwala Hospital, KeREADY, DSD, HSRC, SOS, and Correctional Services contributed to the success of the program. 15 organizations and departments who are service providers of uMgungundlovu district and uMsunduzi local municipality including local leadership attended and actively participated.
Keynote Adress and Ongoing Commitment: The event culminated in a compelling keynote address by uMgungundlovu District Mayor, Councillor Zuma. His commitment, alongside his office, to supporting the campaign going forward reinforced the notion that the fight against GBV is not a temporary endeavour but a sustained effort requiring the involvement of leaders, structures, and organizations.
Conclusion: The “I am a MAN” campaign launch was more than an event; it was a rallying cry for change. It showcased the power of unity, inclusivity, and commitment in the battle against GBV. As the echoes of the launch linger, they carry with them the hope and determination of a community that stands together to say, “Enough is enough.”