Men called to champion fight against GBV, spread of HIV: South African minister

PRETORIA— South Africa’s Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, says men are champions of change in preventing the spread of HIV, and addressing gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) in communities.


“One of the key tasks in preventing gender-based violence in all its forms is to enlist the active participation of men in all communities throughout the 52 districts and metropolitan municipalities of our country,” Zulu said in Parliament on Tuesday.


She was addressing the occasion of the National Men’s Parliament.


The Minister commended the participation of men who have voiced their commitment to non-violence.


“Toxic masculinity puts pressure on boys to be tough and emotionless. These societal constructs of what it means to be a man are extremely harmful to the boys who are being socialised into them, to the men that they become, to our families and to all of society,” Zulu said.


She said all men can play a part in dismantling the stigma around mental health by supporting men to access psycho-social support services, particularly mental health support.


“It is really important that we do that because men in general are less likely to seek assistance when faced with family, health, societal, and economic challenges. It is particularly important that we have met here over the last two days to foreground men’s agenda and to reflect on the state of the South African men.


“Gone are the days when men were only seen as providers or disciplinarians in families. Men have a critical role to play, particularly with respect to correctly nurturing and socialising their children.”


Zulu said men who champion change help in the fight against the multiple social challenges such as HIV, substance abuse and child pregnancies.


“They are not part of these problems. They are on the side of the positive solutions; real solutions that go to the heart of manhood are needed. This starts with building safe spaces by men, for men and with men.


Zulu said the perceptions of being overlooked when employment and empowerment opportunities arise are real among men.


“These frustrations, which turn into violent expressions, need alternative avenues and language[of expression]… We do know that many men do not abuse their partners and children. These are the men who continuously strive to embody respect and dignity.”


The National Men’s Parliament is part of Parliament’s initiative to address sector-specific challenges in order to develop a coordinated national plan of action on the role that men should play in the fight against gender-based violence.



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