Confronting gender inequality and bringing about reconciliation between men and women – 20 August 2013

These are the main aims of a new gender reconciliation partnership between the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, Gender Reconciliation International (GRI) and Stellenbosch University (SU), launched on Tuesday 20 August 2013.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Russel Botman, GRI founders Dr William Keepin and Rev Cynthia Brix and Chief Executive Officer of the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation Rev Mpho Tutu were part of a panel discussing this new partnership and the reasons behind it.

The event was held at SU’s Tygerberg Campus.

The partnership will focus on the implementation of gender reconciliation, applying principles of South Africa’s truth and reconciliation process to restore people’s faith in one another.

“Gender Reconciliation International has been engaged in Gender Reconciliation for 21 years, and its work resonates with two of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation’s pillars – to advance mutual respect, and to enhance human wellbeing,” said Rev Tutu.

Archbishop Tutu emphasised the role of women in society and spoke about how they are treated.

“For goodness’ sake, for our sake, women have to be acknowledged for who they are. We have to recover the humanity of women. We undermine our own humanity if we undermine women,” he said.

Prof Botman thanked the representatives of GRI and the Desmond & Leah TutuLegacy Foundation that Stellenbosch University can be part of this project.

“This year represents a milestone in SA higher education. The first ‘born frees’ have enrolled on our campuses. But in February, we buried a ‘born free’, 17-year-old Anene Booysen of Bredasdorp after she was brutally raped and left for dead.

“We need to develop a new set of young people who think differently and who have a new set of values,” he said. “It is important for us to think again about where we are and where we are going. Our task is to find champions for the cause.”

Dr Keepin emphasised that both men and women are affected by gender inequality and that they need each other to address the issue.

“We have to come together and jointly confront gender inequality,” he said.

The initial focus of the partnership will be a series of introductory workshops and a facilitator training programme. SU’s Frederik van Zyl Slabbert Institute for Student Leadership Development (FVZS Institute) will be used as a platform to roll out the programme.

The GRI project will train approximately 25 student leaders between the ages 18 and 30 years in gender reconciliation facilitation, a process for healing and reconciliation of dysfunctional gender dynamics and behavioural patterns between men and women in South Africa. The trained facilitators will then be able to facilitate GR workshops for theirpeers under the supervision of a qualified GR Trainer.

Rev Tutu said the partnership was being launched at SU but they hope to roll it out to all universities in South Africa eventually.

Ends…

For more information please call Ms Tamu Matose of the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation at tamu@tutu.org.za on 021 552 7524 / 079 878 7829.