The Week Ahead (17 – 21 August 2020)

“We must refine and adapt our methods for a new context with new challenges. Litigation as a last resort is a mainstay of public interest lawyering in South Africa, and the principle is as applicable as ever in relation to budgeting and spending shifts.”

Faranaaz Veriava and Sasha Stevenson, in the foreword to our new Socio-economic Rights and Austerity Report.
Many businesses have returned to work with the easing of lockdown measures from level 3 to level 2 on 18 August 2020. SECTION27 staff will continue to work remotely.

Our advice desk will only conduct telephonic consultations. The numbers to call or WhatsApp are 060 754 0751 or 067 419 6841.

The public interest organisations legal support hotline continues to be available to the public to contact regarding rights violations: 066 076 8845.

Nelson Mandela Foundation Webinar: ‘Governance & Social Contract within a changing international context – Making Universal Healthcare Universal’

On 18 August 2020, SECTION27 Executive Director Umunyana Rugege will join a panel discussion hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation on Universal Healthcare. The panel brings together leading public health experts from around the world who advocate for universal healthcare. Panellists include:

  • Dr Matshidiso Moeti (WHO Regional Director for Africa)
  • Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (WHO Director General)
  • Prof Helen Rees (University of Witwatersrand Reproductive Health and HIV Institute Executive Director)

Date: 18 August
Time: 15:00pm
Register at http://tinyurl.com/NMFWebinar-2020 

Abortion in Eastern and Southern Africa

Today we launch the Abortion in Eastern and Southern Africa online publication in which we enumerate the various barriers to safe abortion services across 10 countries in the Eastern and Southern African region. We also outline the issues that activists have identified as key to remove those barriers. In doing so, we aim to provide an advocacy tool to assist in bringing down the barriers to enable women to exercise their rights to access sexual and reproductive health services.

Read the publication here: https://abortion-esa.section27.org.za/ 

National Strategic Plan against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NSP-GBVF)

Members of the SECTION27 team continue to support the work of the Call to Action civil society collective working to combat gender-based violence and femicide. Details of upcoming engagement on ‘The Establishment of the National Council on GBVF’ are included below: 

Imali Yethu

Imali Yethu, a civil society coalition that SECTION27 is a member of which advocates for budget transparency and public participation in the budget process, will be launching a #ShareYourData campaign. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the Vulekamali.gov.za budget website and encourage people and organising to upload their analysis of the budget to the “Contributed Data” section of the website. This is a further step towards building a community of budget analysis and activism online where people can freely share and interact with analysis and information on everything from tax and revenue trends, social spending, fiscal policy and public debt. Follow the campaign @Imali_Yethu on Twitter.

Oversight into Eastern Cape Health System

SECTION27 Field Researcher Thoko Mtsolongo will form part of a team with Treatment Action Campaign comrades, conducting oversight visits at Eastern Cape health facilities. This follows the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Committee (ECHCAC) day of action against the failures of the health system in the province on 30 July 2020. Nelson Mandela Metro District Health Officials will be part of the team.

THE WEEK THAT WAS

Women’s Day 2020

This year, SECTION27 celebrated Women’s Day virtually. We celebrate the women of SECTION27 who are fearless warriors for social justice This #womensmonth2020 we take a moment to salute all the women activists who led the struggle for our freedom as a nation and paved the path for us as activists to take the fight forward. 

Socio-economic rights and austerity report launch

Read our new report on Socio-economic rights and Austerity! This SECTION27 report, compiled by Mila Harding, Mbali Baduza and Julia Chaskalson, discusses the effects of austerity budgeting on the attainment of human rights & the impact of #COVID19, and explores routes for civil society advocacy. It represents the culmination of discussions which began at our Socio-economic rights and strategic litigation workshop hosted in March of this year, and examines COVID-19 related impacts on human rights.  

You can read the foreword of the report, by SECTION27’s Faranaaz Veriava and Sasha Stevenson here: https://section27.org.za/2020/08/socio-economic-rights-and-austerity/

‘The Parlous State of Poverty Eradication’: a discussion on human rights and austerity

On Thursday 13 August 2020, SECTION27 and Maverick Citizen hosted a webinar discussing the relevance of the most recent report of UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights for socio-economic rights advocacy in South Africa. In a discussion moderated by Mark Heywood, we hosted the Special Rapporteur himself, Prof Philip Alston, as well as Vice Chair of the UN committee for cultural, economic and social rights Prof Sandy Liebenberg. At the webinar, Dr Faranaaz Veriava introduced our Austerity Report. 

You can watch the webinar here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ_EGS8aN6o&feature=youtu.be

COVID-19: What we know about SA’s 33 000 excess deaths so far

South Africa’s rate of excess deaths has started to decline, perhaps signalling summiting of the COVID-19 peak. But reasons for the decline in excess deaths are complex, writes Kathryn Cleary for Spotlight.
https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/08/13/covid-19-what-we-know-about-sas-33-000-excess-deaths-so-far/

Do we need the law to provide for a regular clinical medical procedure such as abortion?

It has been more than 20 years since abortion was legalised in South Africa – and access to abortion services has declined. This hasn’t stopped women from making decisions about their bodies. With the increase of self-managed abortion and telemedicine, Marion Stevens reflects on whether abortion laws may be obsolete.
https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/08/12/do-we-need-the-law-to-provide-for-a-regular-clinical-medical-procedure-such-as-abortion/

Abortion is healthcare  – Dr T.

In the foreword to our upcoming regional abortion publication featured in Spotlight, United Nations Commission on Human Rights special rapporteur for physical and mental health, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng stresses that abortion is health care and reproductive justice is not only about the freedom to choose. “It is far-reaching because it challenges systems of oppression & discrimination,” writes Dr T.
https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/08/12/abortion-is-healthcare-dr-t/

SA to take part in two more COVID-19 vaccine trials

In groundbreaking medical research developments, South Africa is participating in two new #vaccine trials for #COVID19. Read about the candidate vaccines from Johnson and Johnson and Novavax here:
https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/08/11/sa-to-take-part-in-two-more-covid-19-vaccine-trials/

IN-DEPTH: On the streets with paramedics amid COVID-19 and high crime rates

How do emergency medical service personnel do their jobs in the time of COVID-19? Read more about the challenges of these #healthcareheroes here:
https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/08/11/in-depth-on-the-streets-with-paramedics-amid-covid-19-and-high-crime-rates/

IN-DEPTH: Vaginal ring ushers in new era in HIV prevention

Despite the significantly higher risk for #HIVinfection faced by women, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, the world has not seen an #HIV prevention option specifically designed for women since the female condom was approved nearly 3 decades ago. A recent announcement about a vaginal ring to prevent HIV has AIDS now has activists and women’s sexual and reproductive health advocates excited. But where would this ring fit in South Africa’s HIV prevention programme? Amy Green investigates for Spotlight.
https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/08/06/in-depth-vaginal-ring-ushers-in-new-era-in-hiv-prevention/