Scores of women, dressed in black and a touch of red, are assembling in various parts of the country today, to pledge their support for the #TotalShutdown march.

With the rise of violence against women and an increase in femicide, organisers said there will be little to celebrate this Women’s Day.

“We have nothing to celebrate on 9 August. Every week, we receive multiple reports of women, children, and gender non-conforming (GNC) people who have been brutally murdered, kidnapped or abused, and there is no sense of urgency from our leaders to find ways in which society can tackle this violence.

“Women, including the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual), children, and GNC people keep dying at the hands of men in South Africa, and something needs to be done,” said the national liaison for the #TotalShutdown, Onica Makwakwa.

The intersectional march unites women from all walks of life in their call for an end to gender-based violence.

Those who cannot participate in the march are urged to step away from work for a moment of solidarity from 13:00 to 13:30.

While the movement has called for men to not participate, it has encouraged men to support the march by staying away from work and not buying anything today to shut down the economy.

Planned marches will take place in Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Free State, Eastern and Western Cape. The march will also spill over across the borders to Lesotho and Botswana.

Marchers are set to hand over a memorandum of demands to the government, Parliament and other provincial and local structures.

The organisers of the march have compiled a list of 24 demands, which include;

  • A strong message from the office of the President that gender based violence is alarmingly high and that it cannot be tolerated at any level of society and a commitment to never appoint any individual to Cabinet or a State institution, who has been implicated in GBV.
  • The publication of a timeline for the roll out of Thuthuzela care centres.
  • The introduction of an automated national registry for protection orders.
  • Provision of shelters and interim housing to enable woman to escape abusive relationships.

In a short video clip on Twitter, poet and activist Lebo Mashile pledged her support for the march.

“The reason I support this march is it unites women across all political parties, different sexual orientations and gender expressions because all of us are on the receiving end of abuse and misogyny in society.

“Whether it is emotional, verbal, financial, psychological, physical sexual abuse -- all of us are part of this culture that has normalised the ill treatment of women in our society. I am raising two boy children and I don’t want them to be part and parcel of this masculinity and so I will march,” said Mashile.

Government supports #TotalShutdown

The #TotalShutdown march comes just three weeks after the #100MenMarch, led by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), called on men from all sectors of society to boldly declare that violence against women and children will not be tolerated in their respective environment or communities.

In continuing its efforts to bring an end to gender based violence, the GCIS is lending its support to the #TotalShutdown march.  

In addition to the organisations expected to participate in the march today is the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE).

“The Gender Commission believes the campaign will further emphasise the need for collaboration between State, civil society organisations, faith based organisations, trade unions and communities and the need for urgent intervention in response to increasingly high levels of gender violence perpetuated against women and children,” said the chairperson of the CGE, Lulama Nare.

Donate and support to end gender based violence

Those who want to donate to the #TheTotalShutdown can do so by following the link on http://thetotalshutdown.org.za/donate/

Supporters calling for an end to gender based violence can still pledge their support to the 100 Men March by signing an online petition, which is accessible through the link: https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/100-men-march.html. - SAnews.gov.za