Men's forums have an important role to play in reversing gender-based inequality and violence, the Commission for Gender Equality told a men's summit held in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga over the weekend as part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign against the abuse of women and children.
"Gender based violence remains a thorny issue in rural villages, and we believe that men's forums will go a long way in shifting the mindsets of violent people," said the commission's provincial coordinator, Moltah Mavuso.
"We really acknowledge the progress made in Bushbuckridge and Nkomazi local municipalities for forming men's forums," Mavuso said, but added that more still needed to be done to combat gender-based violence.
She also appealed to women to report abusive partners and colleagues.
"We understand that most women hide it because they are dependent on the perpetrators, but we are not confronting the problem if we don't report them at the police station.
"It is shocking and sad to see that South Africa has a high rate of gender-based violence in spite of programmes that we have as a commission and non-governmental organisation," she added.
'It starts at home'
Also speaking during the summit, provincial coordinator for Sonke Gender Justice, Dumisani Rebombo, said fighting gender inequality had to start at home.
"We need to love our kids equally regardless of their gender so that they can grow up knowing that we are equal. We must also be role models to our sons and groom them to become better men in future," said Rebombo.
"Respect your partner; equality means equal respect."
He encouraged men to work together in their communities so that they could inspire young men to join them in their forums.
Mpumalanga House of Traditional Leaders deputy chairman Sandile Ngomane also urged men to get involved in various awareness campaigns.
One of the men attending the summit, Dumisane Thwala, said most men failed to manage their anger and took it out on their partners at home.
"We need to strengthen the forums in our communities on the ground and localise it so that every men can relate to our programmes and most importantly implement the resolutions," said Thwala.