Mar 2022 2nd edition

Social cohesion tops Human Rights Month agenda

Human Rights Month com­memorations will contribute to social cohesion and nation building through a series of dialogues and events planned for the duration of March. Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa

Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mtheth­wa recently launched Human Rights Month in Tshwane.

As part of planned activities, government will conduct public en­gagements between local residents and foreign na­tionals in efforts to foster mutual understanding and peace.

While last year marked the 25th anniversary of the Constitution, govern­ment has also extended the commemoration into 2022, with a series of activations planned.

Launched under the theme, ‘The Year of Unity and Renewal: Protecting and Preserving our Hu­man Rights Gains’, this month’s commemora­tions will also be used to assess the progress of the nation’s constitutional democratic project.

It will highlight the triple challenge of pov­erty, inequality and unemployment, and the goal of building a human rights culture.

While South Africans have made great strides in the management of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, government will also use this month to highlight issues on public health, which are at the centre of the human rights agenda because of the pandemic.

Human Rights Day can be traced back to the tumultuous events in Sharpeville on 21 March 1960. On that day, 69 people died and 180 were wounded when police fired on a peaceful crowd that had gathered in pro­test against the pass laws.

Gender-based violence

Reflecting on the plight of women in the coun­try, the Minister said:

“Women constitute the majority in the pop­ulation, yet in many respects, remain mar­ginalised and more often, fall victim to discrimination and abuse, with some in the process paying with their lives."

He said that since the National Summit against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Femicide that the Pres­ident convened in 2018, there has been a 365- day commitment in this fight across all govern­ment departments and State agencies.

“Also since this national indaba, the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities developed a National Strategic Plan, in which all com­mitments on practical interventions are cod­ified, monitored and reported about periodi­cally as a way to gauge progress.

"On the legislative front, there has also been progress, given the latest enactment into law of the three an­ti-GBVF Bills,” Minister Mthethwa said.

These legislative reforms will, among others, allow victims to make online protec­tion order applications without being present in court.

In addition, protec­tion order applications will be on a 24-hour basis on the online application platform. -

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