On Thursday, 22nd June, the Women’s rights unit and the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression Unit (SOGIE) hosted YALI delegates at the Centre for Human Rights. This very memorable visit is part of a bi-annual collaboration between the Centre for Human Rights and the YALI Regional Leadership Center as led by the University of South Africa (UNISA). YALI aims to develop young African leaders in Business and Entrepreneurship Development; Civic Leadership; Public Management and Governance through a hybrid of innovative and complimentary learning approaches. The Centre lends its support in ensuring that the different groups of leaders are conversant in crucial human rights issues and are also aware of their responsibility as leaders to uphold these rights.
The delegates were made up of young professionals and students from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The session was very engaging and participatory, focusing on issues of women’s rights and LGBTI rights. In particular, the session addressed issues of gender stereotypes, gender based violence and rape culture.
Disturbingly, many of the delegates still held negative biases about women and their role in the society. This is based on cultural norms, religious backgrounds and their socialization. During the session, we drew their attention to the link between these negative biases and gender based violence to illustrate the negative impact patriarchal norms and gender inequality have on women’s physical and psychosocial wellbeing. Rape culture was also discussed making specific reference to the use of derogatory and misogynistic language when referring to women and members of the LGBTI community.
Consequently, our belief is that young leaders play an important role in shaping their communities and should therefore be equipped to recognize and denounce stereotypes that are negative and harmful. They must engage in positive re-orientation that promotes a positive culture and ensures that the rights of women and LGBTI persons are protected.