THE WOMEN’S LEGAL CENTRE REMAINS DEDICATED TO THE ADVANCEMENT OF GENDER EQUALITY DURING COVID-19
At the outbreak of the Corona Virus in South Africa the Women’s Legal Centre took proactive steps to ensure that we were able to meet the challenges of the Corona pandemic head-on. We made the decision to close our offices prior to the lockdown to mitigate the risk to our staff and our clients. We continued over the past weeks to develop our feminist approach and response to the pandemic seeking to provide care and support where it was most needed. Our staff have continued to provide services throughout this time.
The work has required us to leave our homes to consult with womxn who are victims of violence and abuse, and engage with communities where food security is posing a major challenge. During the lockdown we have also been called upon to engage with homeless womxn as we sought to help them ensure that they had access to safe shelter. In the last instance we have engaged in litigation to ensure that womxn’s rights are adequately monitored and their safety assessed and ensured during this time of national disaster. We are unfortunately not immune to the health risks of this time and as much as we have adhered to the safety regulations and precautions, we have joined the long list of organisations and institutions directly affected by COVID-19.
We are faced with the lived reality of womxn in our society and now within our own organization as we confront the very real fear, anxiety and uncertainty that the virus presents once it is no longer “out there”. This all takes time to reflect on and recognize our own positionality and privilege. Like so many other womxn we are confronted with the question of how we provide care and support to our staff members who are sick, but also how we continue to work with reduced capacity. As we all know too well womxn’s work never ends and the need for us to be present where needed is important. This reflection once again considers what it means to be lawyers within an activist feminist workspace.
As we continue with our work, we do so with the values of solidarity, steadfast support, and a fierce commitment to our feminist ethic of care. We may not be in a position to respond to all of the requests for assistance as speedily as we were able to last week. We accept that this will be our new normal for the time being, and we ask that our clients and womxn bear with us at this time. Many have reached out to offer words of encouragement and support and we are grateful especially to the trustees of the Women’s Legal Centre Trust. Rest assured however that we remain available to womxn in need on 079 421 8197 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org