As South Africa observes the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, 40 women survivors in Cape Town celebrated the milestone of reaching the half-way mark in their journey towards reclaiming their lives as part of the Edgars UNiTE Orange Day Campaign.
The Edgars UNiTE Orange Day campaign was initially launched in November 2015 by Edcon in partnership between with UN Women, the provincial government in Gauteng, the provincial and national Fashion Councils and SEWAfrica College. After its launch at the Edcon Head Office in 2015, the multi-stakeholder programme was also introduced in KwaZulu-Natal in 2016 and in the Western Cape in July 2017. The Department of Social Development and SA Fashion Council regional arms are key partners in the campaign.
The 40 women in Cape Town have not only been mentored by leading, local designers but over the last four months of the programme, they will also undergo an intensive three months accredited training by SEWAfrica College, Edcon’s training partner for the campaign.
Elelwane Pahlana, General Manager of Transformation at Edcon, said: “We are pleased with the progress that these women have made thus far. As we stated at the launch of the project, our aim is to finally integrate these women into the Edcon supply chain. A process we have already started with women from some of the shelters in Gauteng.”
Pahlana said she was pleased that Edcon was building a sustainable and scalable model to help the survivors become reintegrated into society and attain the means to achieve emotional and financial independence.
Pahlana added that Edcon intends to roll-out the Edgars UNiTE Orange Day Campaign to all nine provinces. As South Africa’s leading clothing and footwear retailer, Edcon’s network spans across the country and is aimed at benefiting the communities where it operates.
Just prior to the Cape Town launch in July 2017, Edcon introduce the Edgars UNiTE Orange Dialogue, a multi-stakeholder panel discussion platform on issues related to gender-based violence. The aim of the programme is to not only provide the women with skills such as sewing, basic elements of design but to also create a platform for engagement with society in order to find solutions to the challenges faced by survivors of gender-based violence.
On Saturday 02 December 2017, Edgars expanded its awareness campaign by hosting the inaugural Orange Run at Mushroom Park in Sandton, which gave the public an opportunity to put the ‘Active in Activism’ and rally behind the campaign against gender-based violence. The proceeds of the Orange Run will be used to expand the accredited training programme of the Edgars UNiTE Orange Day programme as it is rolled out to all provinces.
The United Nations first launched the ‘Orange Day’ campaign as a global initiative to raise awareness about gender-based violence. The colour orange was chosen for its brightness, and as a representation of optimism and a future free from violence. The UN has declared the 25th of every month, as an ‘Orange Day’, which calls for global mobilisation to highlight issues relevant to preventing and ending violence against women and girls. Edcon participates in this activation by hosting in-house activations and engaging with employees on gender issues.
On the 25th November 2017, the Nelson Mandela Foundation held the annual Nelson Mandela lecture addressed by the Deputy Secretary General of the UN, Amina J Mohammed in Cape Town. Edcon was present at the lecture to showcase the company’s efforts in challenging the issue of gender-based violence.
On completion of the Edgars UNiTE Orange Day campaign, the 40 women would have gained invaluable skills, which would enable them to produce an extensive range of garments. They will also acquire skills on how to cost their merchandise and receive a personal sewing machine from Edcon to help kick-start their journey into self-sufficiency and financial independence.