Dear Parliamentary Members,
On behalf of the National Shelter Movement of South Africa (NSMSA), we write this open letter to
you as Women’s Month draws to a close; a significant occasion that symbolises our commitment to
gender equality and justice. As you start preparing for the upcoming national elections in 2024, we
urge all political parties to make the fight against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF); and
the reduction of the gender pay gap central themes in your manifestos.

Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) remains a deeply rooted and pervasive issue in our
country, causing untold suffering to countless women and vulnerable individuals. Despite various
efforts made over the years, statistics indicate that GBVF incidents are still disturbingly high, and
many cases go unreported. According to the South African Police Service (SAPS) Crime Statistics, a
staggering 3 914 women were murdered in 2022/23, with over 53,000 reported sexual offenses. A
further 57 847 women were victims of Assault GBH over the same period. These figures are alarming
and underscore the urgent need for comprehensive and effective strategies to combat this

To address this crisis, we appeal to all political parties to include the following key elements in your

1. Strengthening Legal Protections: Advocate for the implementation of stricter laws and policies
that protect victims of GBVF and prioritise their safety. Review and amend existing legislation to
ensure that survivors have easy access to justice, and that perpetrators face swift and severe
consequences for their actions.
2. Comprehensive Support Systems: Allocate resources to bolster support systems for survivors of
GBVF. This includes investing in well-equipped shelters, counselling services, and legal aid centres to
ensure that victims have a safe haven and the necessary support to rebuild their lives.
3. Education and Awareness Programs: Prioritise gender-sensitive education and awareness
campaigns that target schools, workplaces, and communities. By promoting healthy relationships
and gender equality from an early age, we can work towards a society that respects and values the
rights and dignity of all individuals.
4. Engaging Men and Boys: Address the root causes of GBVF by engaging men and boys in the fight
against violence. Promote positive masculinity, challenge harmful stereotypes, and encourage male
allies to become advocates for change within their communities.
5. Data Collection and Research: Invest in comprehensive data collection and research on GBVF to
better understand the nuances and complexities of the issue. This will enable evidence-based
policymaking and ensure that resources are allocated efficiently to combat GBVF effectively.
In addition to combating GBVF, we also urge political parties to address the persistent gender pay
gap in South Africa. Women in our country continue to face significant disparities in earnings
compared to their male counterparts. The Global Gender Gap Report 2021 ranked South Africa 17th
out of 156 countries for gender wage equality, highlighting the critical need for action.

To bridge this gap, we call upon all political parties to include the following in your manifestos:

1. Pay Equity Legislation: Introduce and support legislation that mandates pay equity and holds
companies accountable for ensuring equal pay for equal work. Encourage businesses to conduct
regular pay audits to identify and address disparities.
2. Promote Women’s Economic Empowerment: Invest in programs that support women’s economic
empowerment, including access to education, skills training, and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Women must have equal access to economic resources and opportunities to achieve financial
3. Affordable and Accessible Childcare: Advocate for affordable and accessible childcare facilities to
help working mothers balance their professional and personal responsibilities effectively.
4. Encourage Women’s Leadership: Actively promote women’s representation in leadership
positions across all sectors. Encourage political parties to field more women candidates and provide
mentorship and support to increase women’s participation in decision-making positions and
5. Sensitise Employers and Society: Implement awareness campaigns to sensitise employers and the
public about the importance of pay equity and the economic benefits of gender equality in the

By incorporating these critical elements into your manifestos, you demonstrate your commitment to
creating a society that respects the rights and dignity of all its citizens, regardless of gender. This is
not just an appeal; it is a demand for change, a rallying call for a better South Africa, where women
can live free from violence and discrimination, and where economic opportunities are equitable for
As we celebrate Women’s Month, let us reflect on the progress we have made and recognise the
work that lies ahead. The NSMSA, in partnership with various civil society organisations and activists,
will continue to champion the cause of gender equality and work tirelessly to end GBVF. However,
lasting change can only be achieved through a collective effort that involves all sectors of society,
including our political leaders.

We invite you to join us in this fight for a safer, more inclusive, and prosperous South Africa. Let your
manifestos be a testament to your dedication to addressing GBVF and reducing the gender pay gap.
Stand with us in building a nation where every individual can thrive, irrespective of their gender.

In the spirit of solidarity and hope for a brighter future, we eagerly await your response by the 30th
September 2023
and commitment to these pressing issues. Together, we can create a nation that
truly embodies the values of justice, equality, and respect for all.

Mariam Mangera, National Coordinator
On behalf of The National Shelter Movement of South Africa (NSMSA)

Download PDF open letter here