As South Africa celebrates Women’s Month and the significant contribution women make in every sector of society, the fight for equal rights, economic empowerment, and freedom from violence rightfully remain in the spotlight.
According to Warren Myers, Founder, and CEO of AURA, South Africa’s leading security and medical response marketplace, inclusive, accessible technology is a key component in enabling empowerment and in preventing and combating the unacceptably high levels of gender-based violence (GBV) that plague the country.
“It is deeply concerning that AURA data confirms a marked increase in call-outs for GBV and domestic violence with cases doubling this year in comparison to the same period last year.”
Myers says the economic and social costs of violence against women and the persistent lack of resources are a major stumbling block to South Africa’s overall progress. “South African women continue to bear the brunt of inequality, poverty, and violence. Safety is a non-negotiable universal human right which AURA believes is achievable, in part, through the intelligent and innovative use of technology.”
As the world continues to grapple with the challenges of Covid-19, women are facing the most severe economic consequences as a result. The United Nations (UN) predicts the pandemic will push 96 million people into extreme poverty by the end of 2021, 47 million of whom are women and girls. In addition, women have left the labour force at unprecedented rates in several developed countries to attend to unpaid care and domestic work.
Despite numerous obstacles and recent setbacks to women’s empowerment, Myers says there is good reason to be hopeful about the role technology can play in addressing real-world issues affecting women in particular. “AURA’s smart technology provides an affordable, inclusive and rapid mode of obtaining emergency response services that are not confined to fixed locations but are accessible anywhere, anytime.”
He adds that South Africa’s current socio-economic climate with its high levels of unemployment only exacerbate gender inequality and resultant social harms, “Clearly more needs to be done to ensure that women are safe, and feel safe, from GBV. This is not only an issue of national importance but a moral imperative for anyone who wants to see South Africa reach its full potential as a democratic society which values human rights.”
Myers says AURA allows for millions of people to have access to private security and medical response. By using IoT and AI, the AURA marketplace ensures that security resources are used efficiently, closing the gaps of access and affordability so that women feel safer thanks to having on-demand emergency services at their fingertips.
“We see technology as part of an ecosystem of solutions, including key legislation around domestic violence, bail, and the sentencing of offenders. South African Women should not have to endure the near-constant fear of being a victim of GBV, instead, it is perpetrators of GBV and domestic violence who should fear being caught and sentenced appropriately for their crimes.”