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Fighting GBV with bare feet


LET this be an awakening! That was the message from WomanPACT founder Pamela Padaychee at the foundation’s 16 Days of Activism benefit on Saturday night.

The event also recognised KwaZuluNatal’s community heroes who go beyond the call of duty to assist victims of gender-based violence.

Padaychee had the audience in tears when she recited a poem written by a mother of a child who had been raped in a Durban township.

“This poem holds within its verses the power to conjure up hauntingly vivid images. Many may wish to forget it, but for an innocent child out there, this isn’t a mere poem – it’s the harrowing reality she faces daily. It’s a reality that defines her mental state, shaping every aspect of her life,” said Padayachee.

“While we go about our day, let us not forget that approximately 116 girls or women could endure the trauma of rape today. That two women may lose their lives by the time we sit down for dinner, and that by the day’s end, a staggering 1 248 people would have faced some form of violence,” she added.

She described society as a place that had become “characterised by violence, trauma, and an overwhelming sense of sadness”.

“We are a world disconnected from our core, at conflict within ourselves. But today, I urge us all to wake up – consciously, purposefully, and intentionally.”

She called on society to start asking the tough, uncomfortable questions.

“What does it truly mean to coexist on this planet? How can we redefine impact beyond the trappings of materialism

BAREFOOT in black: Malie Panday, Sharon Munien, Michelle Perumal, Ronnel Pillay, Shantal Moonsamy, Andiswa Zindela, Randy Pillay and Pamela Padayachee. The choice to wear black and go barefoot was a deliberate symbol to draw attention to the raw, grounded reality of GBV and to emphasise the need to address it directly, without any barriers. The colour black often signifies strength, power and solidarity. Indicating this was also deliberate by the organisers to show commitment to substance over superficiality and prioritising authentic conversations over external appearances. By pairing these elements together, WomanPACT aimed to foster genuine discussions during the 16 days of activism campaign, urging for impactful change rather than merely symbolic gestures. to foster meaningfulness, nurture a sense of community, and embrace a shared purpose?

“What does authenticity in our actions and intentions really entail?” asked Padayachee.

The members of WomanPACT were dressed in black and with bare feet at the event.

“By this, we make a statement – substance over style!”

She said Saturday’s event was not a symbolic gathering but a “celebration of genuine activism, a tribute to those who courageously live their truth, claim their spaces, amplify unheard voices, and bravely stand against the silence”.

Padayachee described activism as a learned skill.

“Activism is born from lived experiences. The experiences of marginalisation, exclusion, and the fortitude to persist even when doors constantly slam shut, or when financial constraints threaten our very existence.”

She said activists persevered because they were fuelled by a cause – one that yearned for a world that was just, free and deeply connected.

“Let us celebrate the socially conscious activists. Let their passion and dedication serve as inspiration to awaken us – consciously, authentically, genuinely.”

SANDI Mzolo Padayachee receives a painting in honour of her late mother, Dr Anshu Padayachee, from Pamela Padayachee, the Founder of WomanPact. Dr Padayachee was a gender and human rights activist. The engraving on the painting read: ‘For her outstanding contribution to the cause of the emancipation of women and social justice.’

CHANTEL Moonsamy, from left, Feroza Ismail, Sharleen Pillay, and Genesis Pillay.





African News Agency