One of the biggest societal issues in South Africa is the high rate of gender-based violence throughout the nation. It affects women and children disproportionately, with up to 40% of local women having experienced physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime, and just under 50% have suffered from emotional or economic abuse at the hands of their partners.

March is Human Rights Month in Mzansi, and a time to reflect on how we can help other women or play a small role in the fight against gender-based violence. You can do this by launching your own initiative or by reaching out to an organisation that helps victims of abuse.

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Here are five that are doing *incredible* things and providing safety to women across the country who are always on the lookout for compassionate and enthusiastic volunteers to help them bring awareness and be part of long-overdue and very-necessary social change.

1. POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse) – Gauteng

POWA is one of SA’s leading feminist and women’s rights organisation with branches across the Gauteng region. They engage in advocacy regularly to improve the quality of life for women nationally, and welcome volunteers to join them on their mission.

Give them a call 011 591 6803

2. The KwaZulu-Natal Network on Violence Against Women – KwaZulu-Natal

Established in 1994, KZNNVAW is a non-profit aiming to eradicate all types of violence against local ladies as well as promoting gender equality in South Africa They operate throughout the region, from Durban CBD to more rural parts of the region.

Give them a call 031 201 9615

3. Ikhwezi Women’s Support Centre – Eastern Cape

This non-governmental organisation might be far from the bright lights of the city, but if you are close to the area, this is a good initiative to get involved with. They tackle issues, such as women’s subordination, and offer community workshops to empower local women.

Give them a call 045 843 2110

4. Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP) – Limpopo

TVEP looks after the entire Limpopo region. Not only do they provide empowerment and support, but they also offer counselling, shelter and legal services to women, children, minorities and those suffering with HIV/AIDS, with a focus on turning victims into survivors.

Give them a call 015 963 1222

5. Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children (SBCWC) – Western Cape

This organisation is well known for its various events and campaigns that are aimed at raising awareness and creating a safe and secure environment for all South Africans. They provide care and support to women and children who have suffered abuse.

Give them a call 021 633 5287

You don’t have to commit to a long-term volunteer programme to play your part in the fight against gender-based violence. Here are some practical things you can do on your own, or with your friends and fam, to help the cause:

  • Got some gently-used clothes you no longer wear? Wash, pack and donate them to an organisation in your area. Most organisations rely on donations to run.
  • Next time your birthday month rolls around, ask people to donate to an initiative instead of buying you a gift.
  • Spend a lot of time on social media? Use your platforms to spread awareness. Time to leverage that online fame, honey!
  • Women are often shamed for their actions. Instead, believe survivors and their stories and offer them support rather than serving them judgement.
  • Rape culture is still prevalent, and it’s up to all of us to dismantle it by calling people out when they speak in ways that normalise violence against women.
  • Learn what the signs of abuse are. This way you are in a better position to identify it and reach out to those who might be victims.