Southern Africa: WomensNet, 4/1/98

Southern Africa: WomensNet, 4/1/98

Southern Africa: WomensNet
Date distributed (ymd): 980401
Document reposted by APIC

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Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +gender/women+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains the announcement of WomensNet in South Africa, a new initiative aimed at fostering women's use of information technology for policy-making and advocacy.It also contains the declaration on violence against women issued by the Southern Africa Development Community conference in Durban coinciding with WomensNet launch.For more sources on women's rights in Africa, see

The posting also contains links to recent articles on women in Zambia and Kenya, published in the Nairobi-based AfricaNews electronic monthly.

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Women Have a New Web Address!
(Women'sNet 3/3/98)

For more information see:

On March 5, WomensNet will be launched in Durban and Johannesburg heralding the country's first Internet training, support and information programme designed by and for women. is the online home of an initiative where women can network in more ways than one. A project of SANGONeT and the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE), WomensNet aims to get more women using the information superhighway in meaningful ways.

For the Commission, this innovation offers a new way for women to get involved with gender policy-making and monitoring.

The WomensNet launch in Durban on March 5 coincides with a Southern Africa Development Community conference on preventing violence against women in Southern Africa. With contributions from organisations across the country, WomensNet has put together an online information centre on violence against women, the only one of its kind in the region. It will be a clearing-house of policy initiatives, violence against women resources and statistics, as well as a place for women to lobby for better legislation and safer communities.

It has taken less than a year and a half for WomensNet to move from idea to reality. With two full time staff starting now, training, outreach and information development will move into high gear. All of the initial groundwork has been achieved through the active involvement of a national Advisory Group and a hands-on Information Strategy Team. This team, who had no previous Web development experience, created the initial web site at a four-day workshop in December. SANGONeT, which for the past ten years has been supplying electronic communication services to the country's non-governmental organisation (NGO) community, is providing welcome technical assistance.

Critical to the WomensNet mission is increasing the number of women with Web access. And while not many women have access to computers and even fewer to the Web, this could change in the future. WomensNet plans to work with the Universal Service Agency, the statutory body mandated to provide telecommunications access to all South Africans, to make sure that women are centrally involved in the planning of telecentres -- multi-purpose communication centres being built in areas with limited telecommunications. But WomensNet is not only meant for women in front of keyboards. The project managers are quite happy for the material available on WomensNet to be circulated on community radio and via newsletters, and will work with those that are connected to reach out to those that aren't.

For further information please contact Maureen James at 27-11-838 6943 or 27-83-465 3224 and Gail Smith at 27-11-838 6943 or

WomensNet is launching its programme at three separate events.

Press kits will be provided.

On March 5th: In Durban at the Chelsea Conference Centre, Holiday Inn Marine Parade, 13:00 to 14:00

In Johannesburg at the SANGONeT offices, 187 Bree Street, Longsbank Building 13th Floor, 16:00 to 18:00

On March 12th: In Cape Town in Parliament, V454, Old Assembly 13:00 to 14:00



WE, the Ministers, Legislators, Government Officials and Representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations, participating in the SADC Conference on the Prevention of Violence Against Women, meeting in Durban, South Africa, on 5 to 8 March 1998;

REAFFIRMING the strong links in our historical, socio-cultural, legal, political and economic heritage, and the benefits to be gained from closer regional cooperation and collective action;


1. SADC Heads of State or Government signed the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development at their Summit in Blantyre, Malawi, on 8 September 1997, committing their countries to take 'urgent measures to prevent and deal with the increasing levels of violence against women and children'.

2. Member states undertook, in terms of Article 6 (2) of the SADC Treaty, not to discriminate against any person on grounds of gender;


3. SADC member states have signed and/or ratified the United Nations Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child or are in the final stages of doing so; and

4. All SADC member states are party to the Beijing Platform for Action.


5. Reflects the unequal relations of power and value between men and women, resulting in domination over, and discrimination of, women by men;

6. Is acknowledged by the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action as a serious violation of fundamental human rights;

7. Includes physical and sexual violence, as well as economic, psychological and emotional abuse:

a) occurring in the family, in such forms as threats, intimidation, battery, sexual abuse of children, economic deprivation, marital rape, femicide, female genital mutilation, and traditional practices harmful to women;

b) occurring in the community, in such forms as threats, rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation, trafficking in women and children, forced prostitution and women in armed conflict; and that

c) perpetrated or condoned by the agents of the state;


8. The levels of cases of the various forms of violence against women and children continue to increase;

9. Existing measures to protect women and children against violence have proved inadequate, ineffective and biased against the victims.

STRONGLY CONDEMN violence against women and children in all its forms.



10. Enacting laws such as sexual offences and domestic violence legislation making various forms of violence against women clearly defined crimes, and taking appropriate measures to impose penalties, punishment and other enforcement mechanisms for the prevention and eradication of violence against women and children;

11. Adopting legislative measures to ensure the protection of, removal of all forms of discrimination against, and empowerment of women with disabilities, the girl-child, the aged, women in armed conflict and other women whose circumstances make them especially vulnerable to violence;

12. Reviewing and reforming the criminal laws and procedures applicable to cases of sexual offences to eliminate gender bias and ensure justice and fairness to both the victim and the accused;

13. Reviewing, amending or repealing laws adversely affecting the status of women, especially those concerning their legal capacity and access to and control of productive resources;

14. Introducing, as a matter of priority, legal and administrative mechanisms for women and children subjected to violence, effective access to counselling, restitution, reparation and other just forms of dispute resolution;

15. Adopting such other legislative and administrative measures as may be necessary to ensure the prevention and eradication of all forms of violence against women and children;

Social, Economic, Cultural and Political

16. Promoting the eradication of elements in traditional norms and religious beliefs, practices and stereotypes which legitimise and exacerbate the persistence and tolerance of violence against women and children.

17. Introducing and supporting gender sensitisation and public awareness programmes aimed at eradicating violence against women and children;

18. Encouraging the media to play a constructive role in the eradication of violence against women and children by adopting guidelines which ensure sensitive coverage of the issue, and avoid the perpetuation of stereotypes;

19. Introducing programmes and strategies for the eradication of poverty and the economic empowerment of women and children.

20. Adopting and promoting policies and positive measures which ensure the equal representation of women and men in positions of leadership and power in all spheres of public and private life.


21. Providing easily accessible information on services available to women and children victims / survivors of violence, including women with disabilities

22. Ensuring accessible, effective and responsive police, prosecutorial, health, social welfare and other services, and establishing specialised units to redress cases of violence against women and children;

23. Providing accessible, affordable and specialised legal services, including legal aid, to ensure the just and speedy resolution of matters regarding violence against women and children;

24. Providing easily accessible, affordable and, where possible, free social, and administrative services for the empowerment of women and children victims/survivors of violence.

Education, Training and Awareness

25. Introducing and promoting gender sensitisation training of all service providers engaged in the administration of justice, such as judicial officers, prosecutors, police, prison, welfare and health officials.

26. Undertaking and sharing research, the gathering of statistics and other information on the causes, prevalence and consequences of violence against women and children;

27. Encouraging the regional exchange of national , regional and international best practices for the elimination of violence against women and children.

Integrated approaches

28. Ensuring that all these measures are implemented in an integrated manner by all stakeholders.

Budgetary allocations

29. Allocating adequate resources to ensure the implementation and sustainability of the above programmes.


30. This Declaration, in appropriate form, be considered for adoption by Heads of State or Government at their Summit in Mauritius in September 1998;

31. Regional policies, programmes and mechanisms to enhance the security and empowerment of women and, of children, be adopted and their implementation monitored;

32. Urgent consideration be given to the adoption of legally binding SADC Instruments on Preventing Violence Against Women and Children, and to ensure that these commitments are translated into tangible actions.

33. Pending the adoption of such instrument, the co-ordination and monitoring of this Declaration be vested in Botswana, as the current regional gender focal point, and the gender unit of the SADC Secretariat. Member states should submit biannual progress reports to the SADC Secretariat.

34. SADC convene a Regional Conference, two years hence, on the same central theme as in this Conference, to review progress made in the implementation of the above measures and recommendations.


Recent articles from Africanews: News and Views on Africa from Africa, Koinonia Media Centre, P.O. Box 8034, Nairobi, Kenya; tel: +254.2.560385; fax: +254.2.57615; e-mail:; web:

Africanews is a feature and news service owned and managed by African journalists.It deals with culture, peace, justice, ecoloy, religion, gender issues, sustainable development. Africanews ia part of the Koinonia Community in a Nairobi slum, which also manages a street children project. Africanews is published monthly and is available free by e- mail and on the Web in English or in Italian. Kenya: Violence against women must end Zambia: Government must implement gender policy Action and Contacts (Forum for African Women Educationalists of Zambia)


Message-Id: <> From: Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 21:42:23 -0500 Subject: Southern Africa: WomensNet

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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