Africa Unite Peer Educators Tackle Gender Based Violence in Townships

imageWith sexual and gender based violence being prominent in South Africa, Africa Unite conducted a workshop in a informal settlement of Cape Town popularly known as Europe Township in Gugulethu on the 15th of January, with fifty out of school youth from the ages of 16 – 25. Africa Unite also conducted the same sessions in Sithembele Matiso high school on the 22nd and 24th January with grades 9-11. The workshops aimed at understanding the different beliefs and norms that the young people in townships have in relation to sex and gender. imageThese activities are funded by Canada Fund for Local Initiatives- CFLI which started late last year in December 2013 and will continue until the end of February2014. The main objectives of this gender based violence initiative are:

•To develop strategies for involving boys and young men in the prevention of gender-based violence.
•To develop an understanding of the reasons for gender-based violence and the impact of such violence
•Empowering young people in preventing sexual and gender-based violence through peer education and dialogue

According to the Stats SA’s Gender Statistics report, released in July 2013, South African women are still less likely to be able to read or have a tertiary education. Most of the population who live under the food poverty line – less than R305 per individual per month – are female.image

During the first workshop Africa Unite Peer Educators worked with the young people on the difference betweengender, the roles given to men and women by society, and sex, the biological difference between men and women. It became clear that most of the young people did not know the difference between these terms and, after a few guesses from them, the Peer Educators went on to define what gender and sex were and discuss the differences between them and what effect each may have on society.

A number of exercises were done during these sessions which helped us to get the opinions of the young that varied greatly. For example when discussing the statement: ‘Women who wear revealing clothing are asking to be raped’ one student stated that: “My clothes are mine. I choose what I wear and no one should judge me” where as another student said: “You buy your clothes with your own money but if you buy revealing clothes then you are asking for people to take advantage.” Not only did discussing their reasons for agreeing or disagreeing offer a platform for the young people to speak their mind and voice their views on what are some serious gender issue in South Africa but also gave their peers an opportunity to see these issues from a different perspective.image

The principal of Sithembele Matiso high school is so happy with the work that Africa Unite is doing, sharing information with the young people and offering them a platform to confidentially speak their mind. He is now considering giving them slots on their ‘Life Orientation’ programme to continue their work at the school.

Africa Unite is thankful to CFLI- Canada Fund for Local Initiatives for their support in changing the mind set of young boy/men in our townships.

Fore more pictures on the High School dialogue click here

For more pictures on the Europe dialogue click here

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