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18 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice IRSJ) has initiated a Social Justice Week at the University of the Free State (UFS), which started on Friday 12 April  until Wednesday 17 April 2019. 

Ten key events took place during the week. It ranged from dialogues, workshops, talk shows, debates, and interactive displays and events on issues of multilingualism and diversity, social innovation, engaged scholarship, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, gender sensitisation, sexual consent, sexual preparedness, universal access, disability, anti-discrimination, and security.

There was also a round-table discussion on 17 April 2019 with various UFS stakeholders on off-campus student security as well as an inter-institutional discussion on the same topic. The UFS Debating Society will take on the topic of the UFS Language Policy, while Olga Barends from the Free State Centre for Human Rights will host a dialogue on sexual consent.

The IRSJ has also designed and implemented SOJO-VATION: Social Innovation/ Social Change, which strives to create a foundational platform where ideas of social justice, innovation, and engaged scholarship at the UFS and in society can be hosted. SOJO-VATION partners with the Office for Student Leadership, Development, and Community Engagement.

The collaborating partners for the Social Justice Week includes various UFS stakeholders such as the Sasol library, the Gender and Sexual Equity Office, UFS Protection Services, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Office for Student Leadership Development, Kovsie Innovation, GALA, the FFree State Centre for Human Rights, SRC Associations, the Office for Student Governance, Kovsie Innovate, Start-Up-Grind, EVC, EBL, Community Engagement, the Institutional Transformation Plan (ITP) Dialogues Office, Residence Dialogues, UFS Debating Society, Debate Afrika!, the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), and the Gateway Office. 

News Archive

Ivory Coast too dependent on UN to combat violence against women
2015-10-08

During the seminar presented by the Centre for
African Studies (CAS) at the University of the Free State
were, from the left: Thesipo Machabaphala, student in
Gender Studies; Prof Heidi Hudson, Head of CAS;
Dr Peace Medie from the University of Ghana,
guest speaker; and Sesi Mahlobogoane, student in
Gender Studies.

The Ivory Coast is still too dependent on the work of the United Nations (UN) to combat violence against women in the country. There is much talk about ways to address the problem, but the government is still not acting quickly and effectively enough to make a difference in the long term.

These were some of the findings by Dr Peace Medie from the University of Ghana, guest speaker during a seminar series held by the Centre for Africa Studies (CAS) on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State on 1 October 2015.

Dr Medie presented a seminar for students in the Gender Studies programme entitled Women, Security, and Justice: a Study of the Ivorian State’s Response to Violence against Women. Prof Heidi Hudson, Head of CAS in the Faculty of the Humanities at the UFS, facilitated the seminar.

For the sake of internationalisation, the CAS often presents guest speakers from outside South Africa to address its students. In addition , Dr Medie is from Africa.

According to Dr Medie, who conducted some 150 interviews during her research over two years, there was a shortage of resources in the Ivory Coast. This is also the case in several other African countries previously involved in war.

She believes the Ivory Coast should do more to combat violence against women successfully.

She said the UN had a great influence on the way people, especially the police, were thinking about the problem - which included sexual violence against women.

“The UN will not be there forever,” Dr Medie said.

“If response depended only on the influence of an international organisation, what would happen when the UN leaves?”

According to Dr Medie, a shortage of active women’s organisations also had a role to play. She was of the opinion that these organisations should put more pressure on the government to ensure better treatment for women.

“Local organisations are needed because it is not sustainable to depend only on the work of the UN.”


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