Turning the Tide: The Role of Collective Action for Addressing Structural and Gender-based Violence in South Africa
IDS Evidence Report 118
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The case study discussed in this Evidence Report explores the value and limitations of collective action in challenging the community, political, social and economic institutions that reinforce harmful masculinities and gender norms related to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
As such, the concept of structural violence is used to locate SGBV in a social, economic and political context that draws histories of entrenched inequalities in South Africa into the present. The research findings reinforce a relational and constructed understanding of gender emphasising that gender norms can be reconfigured and positively transformed.
We argue that this transformation can be catalysed through networked and multidimensional strategies of collective action that engage the personal agency of men and women and their interpersonal relationships at multiple levels and across boundaries of social class, race and gender. This collectivity needs to be conscious of and engaged with the structural inequalities that deeply influence trajectories of change. Citizens and civil society must work with the institutions – political, religious, social and economic – that reinforce structural violence in order to ensure their accountability in ending SGBV.