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Changing attitudes to prevent gender-based violence in South Africa

30 NOVEMBER 2023

Our teams in South Africa are supporting a new program led by Primestars which aims to guide boys to break free from negative male stereotypes and behaviours that contribute to gender-based violence.

As we seek to address and prevent gender-based violence (GBV) in our communities, we know that transforming the culture of negative masculinity is an important step towards changing the attitudes and behaviours that lead to GBV.

This year, our teams in South Africa have been supporting the What About the Boys? program led by youth development organisation, Primestars. The program forms part of South Africa’s National Strategic Plan on GBV and Femicide and aims to guide boys to break free from negative male stereotypes and behaviours that contribute to GBV.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa officially launched the program in August 2023, and since then it has reached over 15,000 high school boys, from rural to urban communities across South Africa.

What About the Boys? includes an educational film and toolkit, as well as ongoing mentoring activities, centred around self-awareness, accountability, responsibility, empathy and compassion.

Boys participating in the program are required to pledge to a standard of behaviour that they commit to following. Boys are also partnered with mentors to ensure the film’s teachings create long-lasting, changed patterns of behaviour. 

Managing Director of Primestars, Martin Sweet said the program provides a paradigm shift in teaching boys’ positive masculinity.

“The program is designed to engage boys to share emotions in healthy ways, accept and connect with others, stand up and speak out against bullying and inequality, and break free from rigid stereotypes,” said Martin.

“The support of sponsors such as South32 helps to enhance the reach of the program, engaging more young boys in the fight against gender-based violence.”

South32 External Affairs Senior Manager, Africa, Noleen Dube said the program is making a real difference in changing the attitudes and behaviours that lead to GBV. 

“We’re proud to support the important work being done through the What About the Boys? program. Through our partnership with Primestars we have been able to provide mentors and sponsor schools to participate in a program that helps prevent gender-based violence in South Africa,” said Noleen.

Members of the Men’s Forum at Hotazel Manganese Mines received training to become program mentors and were partnered with students from the neighbouring Hotazel Combined School. In the mentoring sessions, they unpacked the lessons in the movie, and provided a safe space for boys to connect, express themselves and seek guidance.

Our Johannesburg office also held a movie screening of What About the Boys? with 400 boys from local schools in attendance.

16 Days of Activism

South32 is proud to participate in the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign - an annual global campaign to help drive change in culture, behaviour and attitudes that lead to violence against women and children.

The campaign runs from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until 10 December, Human Rights Day.

We are committed to building a working environment which is free from all forms of intimidation, harassment, and discrimination, including sexual harassment. We are proud to partner with community groups in the places we operate to help put an end to domestic and family violence and the devastating, ongoing impacts it has on victims.