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UN proclaims 18 November to spotlight child exploitation and abuse ahead of the 16 Days Campaign

“Children are not things to be moulded, but are people to be unfolded,” said author, Jess Lair. The responsibility rests on the shoulders of Early Childhood practitioners and educators to teach the fundamentals for the holistic development of the South African learner. These will assist them to embrace diversity; individuality; mutual respect; and tolerance to refrain from bullying; aggression; and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the classroom or within communities.

Earlier this month, the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution for proclaiming 18 November as a day to annually spotlight the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. The day will not be a day of celebration, but a reminder to the world that the “scourge" of child sexual abuse is happening and to give the victims voices so they know they’re not in this on their own, and for the perpetrators to be exposed and held accountable. The resolution, which was sponsored by Sierra Leone and Nigeria and co-sponsored by more than 110 countries, was greeted with loud applause. Sierra Leone's first lady, Ms Fatima Maada Bio, who introduced the resolution, called child sexual abuse a “heinous crime” that especially affects girls who are at a greater risk of experiencing forced sex and exploitation.

The role of the DBE’s Social Cohesion and Equity in Education Directorate is to institutionalise social cohesion and values as a fundamental core within learners, whilst exploring their identity and knowing their constitutional rights as young South African citizens. “The Department has, along with the VVOB – Education for Development, and in collaboration with the Institute for Life Course Health Research (ILCHR) and the University of Stellenbosch, developed a comprehensive toolkit with resources for promoting gender equality through the creation of Gender-Responsive Pedagogies (GRP) and environments. The toolkit provides guidance on how to prevent discrimination based on gender.

Ms Dululu Hlatshaneni, also from the Social Cohesion and Equity in Education Directorate explained, “On Strategies to eradicating GBV in schools, gender identities are formed by the age of two and a half years-old, whilst gender stereotypes are formed by the age of 6 years-old and contribute to gender discrimination with lasting influence on children’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviour, impacting on learning outcomes and relationships. It is important to intervene early to prevent gender biases, social injustice and inequities. Early learning environments hold the potential to actively challenge and transform gender stereotypes and norms. Interventions that seek to change ways SA’s children are socialised, lie at the core of addressing GBV in South Africa.

The second Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) took place at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, Gauteng Province, from 1 – 2 November 2022. The summit reflected on progress made in the implementation of declarations proposed during the 2018 Presidential Summit, which reaffirmed the country’s commitment to a united, comprehensive and effective response to GBVF with a 356-day focus to address the scourge, and ensure a behavioural change, beginning with ECD in schools, and extending to communities.

The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign commences on 25 November (International Day of No Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day). The theme for the 16 Days Activism Campaign for 2022 is: “Socio-Economic Rights and Empowerment to build Women’s Resilience against Gender Based Violence and Femicide: Connect, Collaborate, Contract!” As such, Minister Motshekga will be attending a 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children community engagement in the City of Tshwane, Gauteng, on 28 November 2022, to address matters relating to GBVF and the community.

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