Another senseless, brutal murder of a young South African woman, Nosicelo Mtebeni (23 years old); over 10 000 rape cases reported between April and June of this year alone with more than half of them committed within the home; and over 15 000 domestic violence cases reported in the past year. Though women have come so far in South Africa, many remain marginalised from the economic and social mainstream and face a constant threat of violence and abuse.
We declare that women are of worth. Whether we are aware or unaware of our inherent worth, we matter and we are of value. Women contribute in so many ways to the fabric of society and are irreplaceable in many platforms. Yet for many women in South Africa it is a constant battle to be seen as a person of worth. A person who is not preyed upon because one is a woman. A person who is not undervalued in the work market. A person who lives in fear for one’s safety. A person who gives all that she is in order to hold a home together, parent children, impact a community by sacrificing who she is every day. Many women do not know who they are, do not value themselves and do not know how to cheer others on, yet they show up day after day for those around them and selflessly serve.
As a grassroots organisation who works with many women who have been or who are going through abuse, Arise believe that women have inherent worth. We believe that women can grow to be resilient, to thrive and develop in their strengths. We believe in empowering every girl child, mother and grandmother who walks through our doors to be the best that they can be, to grow a sense of belonging for each member of the family and to break generational parenting patterns.
Family violence in South Africa is a complex problem that is inextricably intertwined with poverty, inequality, and deprivation, often transmitted across generations. Thus, a long-term, multi-faceted approach is required to face this issue. Recognizing that violence against women and children are interlinked and co-occurring problems, it is essential that an intervention to effectively prevent family violence has components that address both problems.
Arise works tirelessly to address Gender-Based Violence (GBV) by ensuring that not only do we empower women to be fierce, to use their voices, to see their worth but also to hold men accountable and focus on the boy-child so that we can address the entrenched societal beliefs that women are objects, that they are commodities. We teach them that there are healthy ways of coping with anger and stress. Emotional literacy is key as well as life skills such as positive parenting, healthy communication, non-violent conflict resolution and stress management.
We believe that knowledge is power and this power helps us to change and be more resilient as women in South Africa. We have an intrinsic strength as women, a strength that is second nature and can only develop as we cultivate our skills, believe in ourselves and learn to communicate our needs more clearly. It’s important that we learn to celebrate who we are as women and the value that we bring to society and allow our voice to be heard can turn the tide on gender-based violence and set more women free!
We are equal. We are treasured. Let us learn to love ourselves first, grow our own self-esteem and self-worth and then esteem those around us. Together we can hold each other up, celebrate each other and ensure that every family can grow and thrive!