South Africa: #SandtonShutdown - Here Are the Demands

13 September 2019

Civil society groups taking part in the #SandtonShutdown march on Friday against gender-based violence, handed over a memorandum to Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) CEO Nicky Newton-King.

"I salute you all for bringing your voice to the heart of business," Newton-King said after accepting the memorandum. She added that it would be taken to all relevant parties for consideration.

However, after the crowd heckled her, Newton-King left the protest.

"This is your team and you need to control them," she told organisers, as the crowed continued to chant.

Organisers eventually managed to convince her to return to address the protesters.

The civil society groups decided to take their fight against gender-based violence and femicide to the JSE, as this was where the country's wealth was housed.

"Not only are we here to get money, we want corporate South Africa to take some accountability. They don't allow us to occupy boardrooms; women are not paid the same as men, and we want it to end.

"Our bodies are not your crime scene, corporate South Africa. Because you have the money to fight GBV, do it," activist Mandisa Khanyisile told protesters outside the JSE.

'Tolerance is akin to approval'

The march follows a series of protests under the hashtag #AmINext, following the tragic deaths of young women in South Africa, including Uyinene Mrwetyana, Leighandre Jegels, Meghan Cremer and Ayakha Jiyane and her three siblings - all acts of gender-based violence, News24 reported.

In the memorandum, the protesters have asked that corporate work environments, characterised by sexual harassment, be brought to an end: "This behaviour must be eradicated, tolerance is akin to approval."

The memorandum also notes that only 3.3% of the JSE-listed companies have women as CEOs. Activists called for measures to be put in place to end the "effective discrimination against 52% of the population".

This includes a change in the JSE listing criteria to include a 2% levy on profits to help fund the fight against GBV and femicide.

In addition, activists have demanded that all JSE-listed companies contribute to a fund to resource the National Strategy Plan on GBV and femicide.

Demands

The memorandum also asks that woman-centred industry standards/policies are put in place to protect women from GBV, sexual harassment and exploitation.

They ask that employees who work night shifts or after hours be provided with transport.

They want workplace mechanisms to be established to provide support to GBV survivors, as part of employee wellness and prevention programmes to assist in making workplaces safe spaces for all women.

Protesters also want support for their call for the review of CCMA dispute resolution mechanisms related to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Another demand is that salaries and bonuses to CEOs and directors be capped and that the money be used to equitably distribute profits among those who assist in making businesses successful.

Civil society groups want businesses to confirm their commitment to the establishment of a national living wage for all workers, building on the national minimum wage within the next five years.

Source: News24

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