African Youth Demand Strong Action On Gender Based Violence, Femicide, Protection Of Women’s Rights – Women’s Month 2022

As South Africa is commemorating Women’s Month, key findings from the Ichikowitz Family Foundation’s 2022 African Youth Survey indicate that a vast majority (81%) of young Africans across the continent voice strong concerns about ongoing gender-based violence and femicide.

Concern was reported as the highest in Kenya (93%) and Zambia (91%) while 81% of South Africans registered concern, with seven in ten respondents suggesting that they were “very concerned”.

Across the continent at large, nearly eight in ten (79%) further report that there are still not enough protections for women’s rights. Concern as to whether enough protections were in place with regard to women’s rights was reportedly highest in Angola, Congo Brazzaville, Rwanda, and Sudan, where only three in ten believed that women’s rights were being soundly enforced in their nation to-date.

The progress needed in terms of equality under the law is reflected in the lived experiences of African youth. Nearly half (47%) of the continent’s youth report that they have experienced discrimination on the basis of their identity or the characteristics that define them.

Youth in Gabon (75%), Nigeria (71%), and Angola (64%) are most likely to say they have experienced discrimination. The most frequent sources of discrimination are race or ethnicity (13%), language (13%), age (11%), social standing (11%), gender or sex (10%), and religious beliefs (10%). Young women are more likely to have experienced gender-based discrimination (11%) than men (8%).

Equality under the law is considered the most important democratic value by Africa’s youth, but many say that their countries still have a way to go to ensure everyone is treated equally. When asked, 52% agree that in their country everyone is equal before the law while 46% disagree with this statement.

Youth across the continent have very different views about how much equality they enjoy in their country, with eight-in-ten Rwandan youth saying everyone is equal under the law compared to just one-in-three (32%) Ugandan youth saying the same.

  • Most likely to agree that everyone is equal before the law in their country: Rwanda (80%), Malawi (69%), and Ghana (67%)
  • Most likely to disagree: Uganda (67%), Congo Brazzaville (62%), and Angola (58%)

In South Africa, Women’s Month is a celebration of the important role women play in society and a tribute to the more than 20,000 women who marched to that nation’s Union Buildings in 1956 in protest against the extension of ‘Pass Laws’ segregation to women.

Safeguarding women in the Rainbow Nation remains a longstanding challenge in particular. South African Police Services’ (SAPS) statistics on femicide indicate that 13, 815 women over the age of 18 were murdered between 2015 and 2020. And in 2022, the eyes of the world again fell on South Africa, when eight young women were found brutally beaten and sexually assaulted, attacked while attempting to shoot a music video in Krugersdorp.

Further and in terms of finding equitable pathways to success in the workplace, a disparity remains between genders. Recently released Statistics SA data suggested that in 2021, women accounted for 43.4% of total employment. Yet of those in managerial positions, 66.9% were men, compared to only 33.1% of women.

“While notions of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) have seemingly moved to the forefront of the world’s consciousness in the modern age, Africa still faces an archaic disproportionality between men and women in the provision of economic opportunity and the protection of fundamental human rights,” stated Ivor Ichikowitz, Chairman of the Ichikowitz Foundation, Commissioners of the annual African Youth Survey.

“We are fortunate however that our Survey indicates that Africa’s next generation of change makers are sounding the alarm to their leaders in fighting scourges of poverty, gender-based-violence and femicide as a priority to brokering lasting change and development for their countries. They make clear the case that the celebration of women, importantly also key drivers of our economy, should not be demarcated by only a one-month period of time. We risk our own futures by not protecting them, nor in denying them the resources to excel on equal footing and in doing so, benefiting themselves, their communities, and their countries of origin.”

Originally launched in 2019, the African Youth Survey is a first-of-its kind, in-depth exploration of how young people on the fastest-growing continent on earth view themselves and the world around them.

Conducted across 15 African countries – Angola, Congo Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia – by leading global polling firm PSB Insights, comprising more than 4,500 face-to-face interviews, the ‘AYS’ has become an authoritative source for understanding the opinions and ambitions of Africa’s rising generation.

You touch a woman, you hit a rock. These words continue to symbolize the courage and strength of women in South Africa and the continent. Our leaders and our private sector must heed the calls of our young people in providing a sustainable foundation for women’s share of voice in every facet of our decision making. While there is work to be done, we are pleased that our Survey, the bellwether for Africa’s future society, reflects such an impetus for change, empowering women of all ages and demographics and thus giving them the power to stand alone,” Ichikowitz concluded.

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