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Together for Her
Over 50 female celebrities have pledged funds and support to actress Charlize Theron’s Together For Her Campaign. The campaign’s goal is to address additional cases of gender-based violence resulting from COVID-19 lockdowns around the globe. When these lockdowns began, Charlize’s thoughts immediately turned to the people in her native South Africa. She had concerns that conditions would worsen for women and children experiencing domestic violence.

The Effects of Staying at Home

According to the United Nations Population Fund, “Six months of lockdowns could result in an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence.” Although estimates, these numbers reveal the startling consequences that women could face. There are two main ways in which this increase in domestic violence can occur. The first is disruptions in services like crisis centers and helplines. These resources can prevent abuse and help those who have experienced it. The second is the lockdowns. Women must stay at home with their abusers, forcing close contact with those who are harming them.

An Increase in Abuse

Already, there have been increases in abuse. In only the first two weeks of quarantine, calls to the National Hotline on Combating Domestic Violence in Ukraine increased by over 25%. Ghadeer Mohammed Ibrahim Qara Bulad, the director of the Women’s Development Project at the Islamic Charitable Association in Homs, Syria, has seen cases firsthand. While raising awareness for disease prevention, she witnessed husbands beating their wives, sometimes openly in front of their children.

Together for Her

The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project partnered with the Entertainment Industry Foundation and CARE to address the issue of increased domestic violence during COVID-19. Both organizations were very supportive of the cause and Together For Her. So far, the outreach project has donated $1 million to fighting the coronavirus. $500,000 of that was dedicated to the Together For Her Campaign. These funds are being distributed to “shelters, psychosocial support and counseling, helplines, crisis intervention, sexual and reproductive health services, community-based prevention, and advocacy work to address gender-based violence,” said Theron in an interview with Vogue.

Together for Her has united women across the fields of film, entertainment, sports and more. Some other figures who have pledged their support include Octavia Spencer, Amy Schumer, Lauren Conrad, Reese Witherspoon and Viola Davis. Many are survivors of abuse themselves. Viola Davis stated “I am a child survivor of domestic violence. It is the last of the acceptable abuses. It thrives on silence and metastasizes into lifelong trauma that can’t be quantified.” Victims of domestic abuse are continually harmed and even killed. Together for Her’s campaign to provide funds and emotional support is crucial. It lets victims know that they deserve better.

In the midst of a chaotic pandemic, issues like domestic violence often go overlooked. Fortunately, Charlize Theron’s Together For Her Campaign is working to ensure that abuse victims can receive the help and protection that they need.

Alison Ding
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

domestic violence and covid-19

More than 50 female celebrities have pledged funds and support to actress Charlize Theron’s Together For Her Campaign. The campaign’s goal is to address additional cases of gender-based violence that could result from the lockdowns around the globe. When quarantine began, Charlize’s thoughts immediately turned to the people in her native South Africa. Theron had concerns regarding women and children experiencing domestic violence and how COVID-19 could potentially worsen conditions for these women and children.

Domestic Violence and COVID-19

According to the United Nations Population Fund, “Significant levels of lockdown-related disruption over 6 months could leave 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries unable to use modern contraceptives, leading to a projected 7 million additional unintended pregnancies. Six months of lockdowns could result in an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence.” Although estimates, these numbers reveal the startling consequences that women could face.

There are two main ways the pandemic has led to increased domestic violence. The first is through the disruptions in services provided to prevent abuse and help those who have experienced it. The second is that the lockdowns are tying women down at home where their abusers are.

There have already been increases in abuse. In only the first two weeks of quarantine, calls to the National Hotline on Combating Domestic Violence increased by a reported 25%. Ghadeer Mohammed Ibrahim Qara Bulad, the director of the Women’s Development Project at the Islamic Charitable Association in Homs, Syria, has seen cases firsthand. While raising awareness for disease prevention, she witnessed husbands beating their wives, sometimes openly in front of their children.

Together for Her

Charlize’s organization, the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP), partnered with the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) and CARE to address increased domestic violence during COVID-19. Both were very supportive of the cause and Together For Her. So far, the CTAOP has donated $1 million to fighting the coronavirus, with $500,000 going to the Together For Her Campaign.

Funds from the Together For Her campaign are being distributed to “shelters, psychosocial support and counseling, helplines, crisis intervention, sexual and reproductive health services, community-based prevention and advocacy work to address gender-based violence,” said Charlize in an interview with Vogue.

The campaign has united women across the fields of film, entertainment, sports and more. Some figures that have pledged their support include Octavia Spencer, Amy Schumer, Lauren Conrad, Reese Witherspoon and Viola Davis. Many are survivors of abuse themselves. Viola Davis stated “I am a child survivor of domestic violence. It is the last of the acceptable abuses. It thrives on silence and metastasizes into lifelong trauma that can’t be quantified. The abused have been physically, emotionally and financially incapacitated as a result. They stay…. They are continually abused and, in a lot of cases, killed. Providing funds to give them the means to get out and the emotional support to know they are worthy is everything. They are worthy of better, of real love.”

In the midst of a chaotic pandemic, issues like domestic violence are often overshadowed. Fortunately, Charlize Theron’s Together For Her Campaign is working to ensure that victims of abuse can receive the help and protection they need.

– Alison Ding
Photo: Flickr

Femicide in South Africa
In September 2019, after days of protests, the South African government declared femicide in South Africa a national crisis. Femicide, simply put, is the intentional murder of a woman. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) elaborates on the definition and adds that the murder of a woman is intentional because she is a woman. It is different from male homicide because in many cases of femicide, the crime is “committed by partners or ex-partners and involves ongoing abuse in the home, threats or intimidation, sexual violence or situations where women have less power or fewer resources than their partner.”

The Facts

The Republic of South Africa is at the southern tip of Africa, and Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho borders it. Femicide in South Africa is nothing new, dating back as early as colonialism in the 17th century. Female violence has continued since then, possibly due to the lack of severe consequences for the perpetrators. However, studies for femicide in South Africa did not begin until 1999.

According to South Africa’s Department of Police, someone murders a woman every three hours, which equates to about seven per day. In contrast, someone murders a man every 30 minutes, about 50 per day. Despite the lower murder rates for women, most female homicides are much more violent in nature than the male. Many of the female victims suffer assault, rape and burning before their perpetrators dump them. In comparison to other countries, this rate of femicide is almost five times higher than the world’s average. South Africa ranks fourth in the world for the highest rate of violence against women. Additionally, people reported 39,633 rapes and 6,253 sexual assaults in 2017 alone.

Activism Enabling Change

Femicide has gained a lot of media attention in recent years. Anene Booysen suffered brutal rape and murder in 2013. In 2017, an ex-boyfriend murdered Karabo Mokoena. Protests against femicide in South Africa broke out in September 2019 after the rape and murder of the University of Cape Town student, Uyinene Mrwetyana. The protests requested action from the South African government, including the death penalty for all perpetrators of femicide.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country was in a national crisis of violence against women after three days of protests. He detailed a plan of action to combat femicide and gender-based violence, including making the register of offenders public, reviewing cold cases and providing harsher penalties for perpetrators. President Ramaphosa also promised to implement policies in schools, workplaces and communities that would curb violence against females.

The Cavalry Steps In

Femicide in South Africa is also gaining attention internationally. The stories of Anene Booysen and Karabo Mokoena have made international headlines. Award-winning and South African-born actress Charlize Theron has used her platform to speak out against the violence against women in the country, and she has been doing so since 1999. She urged the leaders of South Africa to do more for women and told men not to be bystanders.

In an era of the internet and movements such as #MeToo, the ongoing femicide in South Africa is impossible to ignore. Thankfully, the South African government has taken the right steps. Not only did the President of South Africa publically acknowledge it as a national crisis but also vows to take action against it. It remains for one to see if the South African government keeps its promises, but it is clear that the women and media of South Africa will hold it accountable until they get the justice they deserve.

Emily Young
Photo: Pixabay

Canada and its Strong Stance on Sexism in Poverty
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently condemned sexism in poverty in response to a letter by the ONE Campaign. The open letter was released by Bono and the ONE Campaign on International Women’s Day in March. It was signed by some of the most influential women in the world, including Charlize Theron, Cheryl Sandberg and Angelique Kidjo.

Trudeau is the first world leader to formally respond, addressing the campaign thus: “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am writing back to let you know that I wholeheartedly agree: Poverty is Sexist. Women and girls are less likely to get an education, more likely to be impoverished, and face a greater risk of disease and poor health.”

According to Melinda Gates, one reason poverty is sexist is time. It takes time to finish an education, learn a new life skill or start a business. Men in developing countries are more likely to have access to this time because women are responsible for the vast majority of unpaid housework. There are also more tangible barriers restricting women’s ability to work, whether in the form of laws barring women’s employment or a lack of access to child care for working mothers.

Trudeau had the opportunity to lead by example when Canada hosted the Fifth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund in Montréal on Sept. 16. The conference brought global health leaders together to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. According to Trudeau, such collaboration is an important step to ending sexism in poverty because young women account for 74 percent of all HIV infections among adolescents in Africa.

Canada has increased its contribution to the Global Fund by 20 percent to $785 million CDN, all of which will go toward providing mosquito nets, medication and therapy. The Global Fund aims to save millions of lives and prevent hundreds of millions of new infections by 2019.

According to the ONE Campaign, nowhere in the world do women have the same opportunities as men do, a fact due in part to the sexism inherent in poverty. Trudeau’s response is one of many steps needed to rectify this major inequality.

Sabrina Santos

Photo: Flickr

milken institute global conference
Philanthropist Michael Milken established the Milken Institute in 1990 with a focus on the interaction between education and job growth. The institute’s mission has expanded to include advancing economic and policy solutions to create jobs, widen access to capital and enhance health.

The institute has also expanded its reach. At this year’s Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, guests included Matt Damon, will.i.am and Charlize Theron. The 17th annual conference attracted more than 3,500 entrepreneurs, executives, philanthropists, scientists and celebrities.

Co-founder of Water.org, Matt Damon, spoke about the water crisis, in which 780 million people in the world lack access to clean water. Damon and co-founder Gary White created the nonprofit organization to find new solutions, new financing models and real partnerships, with the vision of providing safe water and proper sanitation means for all. Water.org operates in Africa, South Asia and Central America.

Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am spoke at the conference about his experience teaching disadvantaged children from his former neighborhood in Boyle Heights, Calif. He also spoke about entrepreneurship, presenting his wristwatch phone, which was an idea he designed and created with the help of an engineering team.

Charlize Theron, founder of Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, spoke at the conference about fighting AIDS in South Africa. Almost 6 million people in South Africa live with AIDS. Theron, a native of South Africa herself, established the project in 2007 to support African youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The youth of Africa are particularly vulnerable to HIV for many reasons including gender inequity, high crime rates, lack of cohesive family units, high incidence of rape, lack of information, chronic unemployment and lack of access to health services. The project focuses on community-based organizations and gives support in the form of grants, networking and building collaborative relationships based on trust and respect.

The Milken Institute Global Conference is organized into more than 160 panels that are grouped into 11 categories, including education, philanthropy, aging, health and environment. Next year’s conference will be held April 26-29.

– Haley Sklut

Sources: Forbes, Look to the Stars, Milken Institute, Water.org
Photo: Fulloma

Charlize-Theron-South-Africa-AIDS
On July 29, Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron urged the youth of South Africa to educate themselves about HIV/AIDS in order to stay healthy. The speech took place after her meeting with President Jacob Zuma, where they discussed South Africa’s response to HIV/AIDS and her role as a UNAIDS messenger of peace. UNAIDS is the joint United Nations program on HIV/AIDS.

The South African-born actress told reporters at the Union Building in Pretoria, “We are all here to support you. You are the future of this country and I am asking you to seize the opportunity to lead healthy and empowered lives.”

“It’s always very special for me to be able to come home and even more when I have a chance to lend my support to the youth of this country,” said Theron, speaking to the youth wearing a red AIDS ribbon.

Known for her glamorous red carpet photos, perfume advertisements, and movie roles, Theron said South Africa has come a long way in its response to the HIV epidemic, but too many girls and young women are still falling through the cracks and should not be forgotten. The social stigma associated with the virus in some areas of South Africa still needs to be addressed. Women should be empowered enough to protect themselves whether or not they chose to be sexually active, Theron said.

Theron went on to say she regarded a safe school environment, with teachers and counselors who were equipped to help, as key effort in the response to HIV/AIDS. In 2009 Theron was named the UN Messenger of Peace, tasked with promoting efforts to end violence against women. The Africa Outreach Project is one of her projects which, according to the UN, provides funding for a mobile health and computer clinic that visits high school and rural communities affected by HIV/AIDS.

Zuma proudly welcomed Theron back home. “We had a very good discussion, which we believe is going to give us a big push,” he stated to reporters. He applauded South Africa’s success in increasing life expectancy, praising Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. He said in his hometown of Nkandla, people could now talk about HIV/AIDS without fear.

After the briefing, photographers swarmed for one last photo of the glamorous movie star.

– Scarlet Shelton

Sources: All Africa
Photo: Firstpost