MTN, ZTE extend a lifeline to survivors of gender-based violence
Violence against women and children is on the rise in South Africa, with Statistics SA reporting that the the number of women murdered between 2015 and 2016/7 increased by an alarming 117%. Further to this, Statistics SA also revealed the number of women who experienced sexual offences had surged from 31 665 in 2015/16 to 70 813 in 2016/17, an increase of 53%.
Having a deep understanding of challenges that many women and children across the country face every day, the MTN SA Foundation and ZTE Corporation South Africa, a telecommunications infrastructure vendor, made a joint commitment to assist wherever possible.
In their drive to be a force for positive change, these two organisations partnered to build a 20-seater multimedia centre at the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children in Athlone, Cape Town; this was unveiled today.
The contribution forms part of the annual commemoration of the "16 days of activism for no violence against women and children campaign", which runs from 25 November to 10 December.
ZTE built and furnished the 20-seater multimedia centre that is fully kitted out with computers and a smart board. The MTN SA Foundation pledged to provide free Internet connectivity to power the centre for two years and to provide ICT training to the facilitators. In addition, MTN employees handed over non-perishable food.
"Gender-based violence is a stain on our society. It is a crime that knows no geography, social standing or religion. At MTN, we have always supported initiatives that aim to lift women and children out of difficult and often devastating situations. We believe that the advancement of any society should be evaluated by the manner in which it treats its most vulnerable members.
We believe that access to information and ICT skills can open up a whole new world of opportunities and empower women and children to escape from gender-based violence. We hope that this contribution will give the survivors the tools and skills needed to advance in today's digital world," says Jacqui O'Sullivan, Executive for Corporate Affairs at MTN SA.
Nikky Cheng Dong, Operations Director of ZTE South Africa, concurred: "We at ZTE take gender-based violence very seriously; we believe our partnership with MTN on this project will bring about a positive change needed in the lives of the women and children who are victims of such crimes. ZTE, being a leading global ICT company, believes that living in the information age, ICT is the foundation of our world today. By providing access and training, we feel that our contribution will give the women and children in South Africa the confidence to move forward on their journey to empowerment, armed with knowledge and skills."
Established in 1999, the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children is a one-stop centre for survivors of gender-based violence. It houses 120 women and children who benefit from the Residential Programme, which provides sanctuary for a period of up to four months.
The centre also offers free legal advice, medical services, economic empowerment programmes, childcare services, counselling and mental health support. Over and above this, the institution conducts research on gender-based violence and provides job skills training.