By Jodi Williams

At the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, we have always found it important to acknowledge fellow activists who work tirelessly towards achieving reconciliation in South Africa. Since the year 2000, the IJR has recognised a number of individuals, communities and organisations that contribute towards reconciliation in such a way that it creates sustained momentum for not only the realisation of reconciliation but also the honest interrogation of reconciliation in South Africa.

This year, the theme for the Reconciliation awards was Achieving Gender Justice and Reconciliation. South Africa finds itself at a critical juncture as a young democracy, with major systemic failures and deep-rooted issues affecting the country’s road towards reconciliation. At the IJR, we recognise that we simply cannot speak of a reconciled and just South Africa without addressing the issue of gender-based violence. Justice is a prerequisite for reconciliation. And Gender-based violence is one such pervasive issue that undermines all efforts made towards achieving Gender justice and reconciliation in South Africa and the continent, at large.

There are countless organisations, social movements and activists working towards achieving gender justice and reconciliation in such a way that its complexities and nuances are represented and critically discussed. Gender Dynamix is one such [non-profit] organisation; working vigorously towards the protection of human rights and dignity of transgender and gender nonconforming people within and beyond the borders of South Africa.  In a context where gender injustice is of epidemic proportions, Gender Dynamix advocates for and defends trans and gender nonconforming persons; a group who remains subject to structural violence, discrimination, sexual violence, and social and economic exclusion.

Gender Dynamix is a vibrant organisation that deals with gender issues in such a way that their work practices authentic intersectionality; something that we, in the gender justice field, all strive for. Their remarkable skill set has seen the organisation successfully influence policy on local, provincial, and national level while continuing to display a distinctive capacity to initiate dialogue and participate in difficult conversations around trans Issues. Gender Dynamix has, thus, emerged as a key role player in trans education, engaging allies, families, medical practitioners, legal professionals as well as the media on gender issues that remain largely excluded from mainstream and dominant gender discourses.

The lived reality of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially the trans community, is one of great concern. Especially in a context where violence in all its forms has become so normalised. Combating harmful attitudes and behaviours that uphold systems of oppression and exclusion is no easy task. With the reawakening of conservative values in the global system, it is imperative that our conversations around social change centralise the voices of the most marginalised members of society. It is for this reason, and all the reasons above, that we honour our fellow activists at Gender Dynamix for their extraordinary work towards achieving Gender Justice and Reconciliation

Compiled by Jodi Williams, a Project Officer for the Communications & Advocacy programme at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation

Image credit: Image of Reconciliation Award winner, Gender Dynamix. Photo: Lesley Marks