16 Cuppas create more than just comfort

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign that kicks off annually on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. It was started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

In South Africa this year, the Wine and Agriculture Ethical Trade Association (WIETA) was determined to turn up the volume by broadcasting stories of women living on farms in the Cape Winelands.

As an organisation, Wieta’s mandate is to drive an ethical trade programme for the South African wine industry. As such it is a globally recognised ethical auditing body representing both the interests of trade unions, civil society groupings, wine brands and their producers, which places them in the unique position to actively promote fair working conditions within the wine industry and provide a platform for dialogue around ethical trade.

Celeste Cloete-Carolus, the Programme Manager for Standard and Certification at Wieta, decided this year to promote the 16 Days of Activism message by interviewing 16 women from various parts of the Cape Winelands.

Cloete-Carolus met each woman individually over a cup of coffee and their conversation was filmed. Each of their stories was broadcast on YouTube over the 16 days of Activism, starting on 25 November.



So far we’ve heard stories from young women and from older women; stories of great suffering and stories of triumph; stories of poverty and stories of great success. But all the women have conveyed an infectious, indomitable spirit that should inspire all who listen to them to make the best of their situations and rise above their circumstances.

One women who was beaten and gang raped, and then had her house bulldozed without warning, losing all her possessions, had this to say: “I lived as if I didn’t exist”. But had the courage to say later: “But I still want to be a women and do my best for my children and grandchildren.”

Another said: “Many will tell you your dreams are too big, that you have to make your dreams smaller, but nothing is impossible …if you believe in yourself you can achieve it.”

Since screening these videos, Cloete-Carolus says the response has been good: “People that have watched have said that they could relate to some of the stories,” she says. “In general industry has also responded positively, suggesting that this project is taken further, realizing a key to mental health is being heard.”

Each participant was given 2 coffee mugs as a token of gratitude for telling their story, but also as a reminder to them of their bravery as an overcomer.

To view the videos or to find out more about WIETA visit www.wieta.org.za.

- Blog by Julia Moore