Scottish singer and activist Annie Lennox spoke in Capetown, South Africa Thursday about violence against women and the importance of men joining the movement to liberate all women. According to South Africa's iOL News, Lennox stressed the need for all people to work together to make the world a safe place for girls and women.
“Contemporary feminism, where men become feminists with women, is needed to bring an end to the abuse of women and children...so that fathers can bring up their sons to respect their sisters and mothers," said the "Sisters are Doin' It for Themselves" singer.
Lennox was speaking at the Cape Town Press Club on behalf of her "Make It Happen" petition and project, which calls on governments and media organizations to bring an end to gender-based violence, particularly in the republic of South Africa, which is reeling from the brutal gang-rape and murder in February of 17-year-old Anene Booysen.
In her remarks, Lennox stressed the need for community involvement.
“Everyone refers to the end of apartheid in 1994 as (being as) significant as the 1865 agreement to abolish slavery in America," she said. "These events weren’t simply miracles that occurred by themselves. It took a collective effort, courage and vision to achieve these goals.”
The "Make it Happen" petition is backed by groups like the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and actress Charlize Theron's humanitarian relief agency. The effort is being promoted on Twitter with the hash tag #MakeItHappen.
As lead-singer of British techno-pop ensemble Eurythmics, Lennox shot to fame in the early 1980s. She has used her position to promote human rights causes, as well as anti-rape groups and HIV-relief and prevention organizations. She said that it was in South Africa for a charity concert in 2003 that she first realized the need for action against HIV and AIDS in that country.
“It was absolutely mind-blowing when I witnessed Mandela describing the HIV/AIDS pandemic as a virtual genocide of the South African people, especially women and children,” Lennox recounted. “The realization of what was happening hit me. I am a woman and mother, and I could not understand why I was not hearing about this pandemic outside South Africa? I was ashamed and outraged...I had to do something.”
She continued, “I’ve been working continuously to support women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in the country. I’ve seen how gender-based violence is one of the factors that comes into play with the spread of AIDS, so it’s not unknown to me. I simply feel a moral obligation to respond. Gender-based violence is deeply rooted and affects all of us."
“Until people realise the extent of it," she said, "and the urgency of the matter then people will continue to live in a culture where brutality and violence undermine the very fabric of society.”
Watch a video statement from Lennox about "Make It Happen" from earlier this year, embedded below via YouTube: