By Anees Teladia
The Western Cape Women’s Shelter Movement (WCWSM) and the National Shelter Movement of South Africa (NSM) have called on government to address funding shortages which are preventing the improvement of inadequate shelters for abused women in South Africa. Despite the harsh weather conditions, the organizations held a protest outside Parliament on Tuesday, showing just how serious the situation is for thousands of women across the country. The protestors successfully handed over a memorandum to Lindiwe Zulu, national Minister of Social Development.
The protest occurred as a result of the disturbing findings of the Commission for Gender Equality’s (CGE) investigative report, launched roughly two weeks ago. The protest was also influenced by research conducted by the NSM over the past three years, on sheltering in six provinces of South Africa.
“What we have learnt is that although the government provides some sheltering, the sheltering is far from adequate and there’s no standardisation in the way that funds are allocated across the country. This problem is not only between, but is also within, provinces,” said Zubeda Dangor, the head of the executive of the NSM.
Dangor elaborated on the issue of a lack of uniformity as far as the distribution of funding is concerned, highlighting the unequal quality of service and sheltering received by women in different parts of the country and within their respective provinces.
“A framework has to be developed by government so that standardisation can happen. Without it, not all survivors of gender-based violence receive the same type of services.”
“In some provinces, there’s an allocated R9 per woman, per day. In others, there’s an allocation of R71 per woman, per day. That’s not a happy medium. Government has to ensure that there’s uniformity,” said Dangor.
Dangor also, however, expressed appreciation toward Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, for the manner in which she received and signed the memorandum handed over to her yesterday.
“The protest went off excellently. We were able to reach the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu. She took the time to come out and meet the protestors (in the pouring rain) and we really appreciated this.”
“There was a memorandum and that has been handed over and signed by Minister Zulu. She has given us some assurance that she will be working with us,” said Dangor.
“Now we have to follow up with her and ensure that the timelines offered in the memorandum are respected.”
An extract from the memorandum reads:
“The CGE findings corroborate research that the shelter movement has undertaken over the last three years. Research finds that shelters provide absolutely critical services to abused women, but the majority are not only chronically under-funded – especially when provided by non-profit organisations – but also highly variable, with subsidies provided by the Department of Social Development (DSD) differing across and within provinces.
The subsidies to meet the needs of women residing at shelters can, for example, range from as little as R9 per person per day in one province to R71 in another province. Findings also indicate late payment of tranches with some shelters sitting without funding for several months at a time – meaning that women and their children cannot be accommodated if shelters do not have other sources of funding to provide food and other essentials for those seeking reprieve from abuse; no subsidies for shelter infrastructure and maintenance; and inadequate and varying subsidies towards the employment of key shelter personnel, to name but a few findings.”
“The WCWSM and the NSM call on government to adequately cost shelter services and sufficiently fund shelters rendering services to survivors of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) enabling them to better able meet the multitude of needs of survivors and the standards set by the department.”
PHOTOS (courtesy of Marike Herselman):