We Will Speak Out SA strengthens and broadens its leadership team of change-makers

DRAWING the curtains on South Africa’s Heritage Month by capitalising on the soft power of faith communities, We Will Speak Out South Africa (WWSOSA) elected new members onto its Management Committee to strengthen the fight against ending sexual and gender-based violence (GBV).

“At our recent AGM, WWSOSA saw fresh changes to its management committee (ManCom). The new-look WWSOSA ManCom includes young people, prominent persons within the GBV spectrum and leaders from diverse faiths. Most important, we continue to include two representatives from the survivor movement.  We are excited about the possibilities this holds for WWSOSA,” said Daniela Gennrich, Coalition Coordinator.

“As WWSOSA, we are committed to having voices and activists that can bring change to the narrative of how we tackle issues that relate to SGBV. Against this background, the election of persons to serve on our ManCom was hotly-contested and the members who voted at the AGM for the new ManCom members had to ensure that there was diversity, inclusion and representativity.”

The AGM saw five new members being elected to the WWSOSA ManCom, namely: Esperande Bigirimana, Lihle Cwinya Ai, Pontsho Segwai , Rev Demond Lesejane and Vedhan Singh. These members bring a wealth of knowledge in using faith and religion to tackle the scourge of GBV.

“Rev Lesejane has a long history of gender justice work in the international and local faith sector, with a particular focus on working with men and faith leaders.  Bigirimana is a Burundian Massacre survivor and a leader of Phephisa Survivors Network together with Cwinya Ai, a seasoned community-based gender and anti-gun violence activist. Segwai brings experience of working to transform the lives of children in relation to HIV and GBV as a Field Operations Manager for FBO World Vision South Africa. Singh, an affiliate of the Sanatan Dharma or Hindu faith, joins the team as a young person having served in preventing violent extremism and in peace and security roles at the African Union and United Nations”

Current members are all longstanding and experienced activists: Rev Bafana Khumalo, a co-founder of Sonke Gender Justice, Saydoon Nisa Sayed, a longstanding ambassador for interfaith work, with a particular focus on children and GBV, Ntwenhle Majozi, a young community activist representing the LGBTIQ community, Patricia Sibanyoni, an activist for gender, economic and democratic justice, and Simon Read, a professional accountant continues as Treasurer.

Over and above this power-team, four nominees have agreed to serve on the ManCom Sub-Committees (HR, Finance, Advocacy and Theological Foundations). “This is an exciting new development,” said Gennrich. “Since WWSOSA is a coalition of many experienced and wise members and organisations, it is great to broaden the leadership base in this way.” The four additional members are Rev Storia Seitisho (Methodist Synod of Limpopo), Rev Seipati Ngcobo (Anglican Diocese of Natal), Sixolile Ngcobo (in her personal capacity, though linked to the Commission on Gender Equality) and Rev Lucas Mathethele Morena (Liberating Lutheran Church in Southern Africa).  

Springboarding off the strength, expertise and experience of the current distinguished members of our ManCom, WWSOSA is set to embark on a new and exciting path as it sets out to achieve its dream of transformed, just and reconciled communities where the lives of women, boys and girls are no longer shattered by gender-based violence.

Segwai said that she was grateful for this opportunity, “I look forward to contributing to the work of the ManCom and learning from the other esteemed members. “It is truly a privilege to be elected to the ManCom of WWSOSA who continues to have their finger firmly on the pulse of issues that support a vibrant, growing and vocal movement of survivors of SGBV, sensitising and equipping faith leaders to become advocates to end SGBV and survivor stigma while undertaking joint advocacy initiatives and campaigns, engaging men and boys, together with women and girls, as allies to end SGBV,” added Singh. 

Sayed welcomed the new members: “Together, we will make a difference”.