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Gender-based violence and femicide are ill that have left no sector of society untouched. Ehlanzeni District Municipality Executive Mayor Cllr J.Sidell, called upon institutions of higher learning to be part of the implementation of a new strategy, to support it both materially and morally and to be active forces for change in institutions and communities. The public, the media, faith-based groups, traditional organisations, businesses, and labour all came on board to support the initiative.
On date 13 April 2023, Ehlanzeni District Municipality hosted a Gender Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) Competition for institutions of higher learning. The event took place at Ehlanzeni Disaster Management Centre, Mbombela. The competition was between the University of Mpumalanga, Tshwane University of Technology and Ehlanzeni TVET College, to evaluate which institution has the best strategy that could assist in the eradication of GBVF within the Ehlanzeni District Municipality.
The purpose of the event was to raise awareness and spread a clear message of zero tolerance for all forms of violence against women and children. It was also a platform where for informing victims of their rights and the support services available to them while providing a forum to develop and share effective strategies to eliminate such violence.
The competition was instrumental in identifying key interventions to address, not just gender-based violence and femicide but the wider challenges students face with regards to safety and security. Students gained an understanding concerning their role in fighting these violations of human rights and how to give hope for the future to survivors of GBVF. It was also emphasised that victims should not isolate themselves and that they should openly address their domestic issues and report to the police in time to ensure that justice can be served. The institutions of higher learning, the University of Mpumalanga, Tshwane University of Technology and Ehlanzeni TVET Colleges participated in a debate, presenting strategies to be implemented, violence prevention policies and pillars of programmes that are evidence-based.
On Wednesday, 26 April 2023, the event sustained an awards ceremony made of entertainment, keynote addresses, presentation of the strategies, selection criteria for the winning strategy and prize giving. The winners of the competition were as follows: the University of Mpumalanga got first prize, the second prize went to Ehlanzeni TVET College and the 3rd prize went to Tshwane University of Technology.
The key takeaway from the competition was the in-depth and diverse dissection of the topic. All those who were involved really dug deeper than just the usual ‘scratching the surface’ for the sake of talking about GBV. It prepared the students to be able to lead their lives of dignity and freedom and to live through the strategic plan they presented as both their shield and armour.