Why the Forum will not attend the National Gender Summit

The Gauteng Community Health Care Forum is an organisation that brings together Community Health Workers(CHWs) from clinics around Gauteng. CHWs are the first line of defence against HIV/AIDS, TB and other diseases in our communities, and CHWs are also in the forefront of tackling gender-based violence in townships.

CHWs are the critical component that carry the burden of entering townships highly filled with violence against women and children. As we move from one house to another we are not only faced with the violence but we are the people who carry the burden to make sure that women and children who are victims of such crimes get the necessary support.

The Gender summit is not pro-working class women as it claims to be. We can see this in its list of demands, in its organising strategies and in the way it is tackling the violence we are faced with. It remains a process of middle class women and politicians that use working class women as token for their own interests.

We continue to be weary of government-aligned initiatives in the quest to fight gender based violence. We cannot support a Presidency that holds summits that continue to exclude the poor majority. As working class women we are also vigilant that it is the very same state-sanctioned gender-based violence that terrorises us on a day to day basis as we continue to survive in the harsh realities caused by the neo-liberal policies adopted by government.

As majority women in the field, CHWs have also been victims of gender-based violence as we move house to house in the communities. Many of us have been raped, beaten and sexually harassed in the line of duty and fear for our lives. We still remain unrecognised by the government. The government continues to fail to address issues around gender-based violence because it excludes working class women that are at the receiving end of the high levels of gender-based violence in South Africa.

We are also concerned that our participation might be simply a way to swell numbers, and give the appearance of inclusivity when agreements being presented to the Summit have already been fixed by middle class women organisations and the government.

On the 1-2 November 2018, at St George Hotel and Convention Centre in Pretoria, the Summit will sign a vague and hollow declaration in support of the fight against gender-based violence, so that the government and the parties involved can pretend that it is supported by all sections of South African society, coming together to fight for women, LGBTIQ+ and children, when in reality the scourge of gender based violence will remain unchanged.

Our call is to work on building militant feminist movements from below. We need to build movements that will organise around the root causes of gender-based violence. These include economic policies that empower women, strategies and policies that really uproot patriarchy and other causes of Gender-based violence.

Issued by: Gauteng Community Health Care Forum
Patricia Makhubu, 079 841 9686
Doreen Mongale, 063 179 1810

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