(by Dr Vincent Ehlers of Ubunye Healthcare Solutions – a grateful son)

“It is a simple but essential philosophy: protect mothers and children as they will shape the next generation.”

We are all a product of our environment – an outward manifestation of a host of complex interactions occurring within our minds – the combined result of everything that we have encountered up to that moment.

For those who are fortunate enough, the most constant figure in our lives is a mother. It may not always be your own mother; it could be a grandmother, a guardian or even the mother of your children.

The value that a strong woman can provide is second to none. Through their affection and strength, they shape our environment, nurture resilience and mould the character of those they care for. This is one of my core beliefs and drives me to try to safeguard women and children from the atrocities they endure in our society.

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

It is a simple but essential philosophy: protect mothers and children as they will shape the next generation.

In 2019 and 2020 we have seen advocates for women’s rights unify and stand up against gender-based violence in campaigns like #AMINEXT – bringing to light the continued and growing need for South Africa to respond, to listen, but also to speak up for the mothers and daughters of our country.

These demonstrations of strength could not go unheard, and as a result, Cyril Ramaphosa has drafted three new bills to bring justice to the victims and survivors of GBV in South Africa. There is still much more to be done, but this is a small step towards a safer and more positive future for women and children.

“When you beat a woman, you beat a nation” – President Ramaphosa condemns GBV in Heritage Day address

What is ‘environment’?

The term ‘environment’ may be misinterpreted as that which you can see around you, whereas the environment I refer to here includes every single thing that is external to oneself.

Children’s minds are a complex system which is ever-evolving. They receive input by means of sensory stimuli which include observation, communication, and human connection. This is processed and helps them to form their own values and reasoning, which then ultimately influences their actions. This is important to highlight as the developmental years of children lay the foundation upon which their eventual character is built.

A positive environment that facilitates the growth and development of a child is the greatest gift you can give them to aid their future. This is not a simple task if you consider the intricacies of human life.

Copyright : Cathy Yeulet (123rf.com)

Adversity can build character through developing resilience, but at what threshold does it cause irreparable damage?

What if too much positive reinforcement builds false confidence leading to the inability to cope with criticism?

Does protecting your child from all the harsh realities of the world create a false sense of security that could later be shattered?

Unfortunately, no one has the answers to these questions and a direct outcome is not easily measured.

However, what is known is that the absence of forming a close bond is detrimental to a child. That an environment filled with negativity and trauma such as witnessing or experiencing will impact them. These are events that we should all strive to control and remove from society entirely, not only for the benefit of our children and caregivers but to preserve our future generations.

In SA, the responsibility falls mainly on women

In a South African context, it is common practice for children to be left to the care of a grandmother or mother, while the role of breadwinner is assumed by the father.

This leaves the enormous responsibility of raising a child to a woman, a role that she may or may not have wanted but is now accountable for. It would be naïve to ignore the fact that finances determine socio-economic status which in-turn will impact the environment, but the environment consists of far more than just monetary contributions.

The value of being physically present to provide support should not be underestimated. It is from being carried in their arms to being fed by their bodies, from playtime to doing homework together, from sharing laughter to being able to cry on their shoulder, it is this love that plants the seeds of empathy and courage.

I cannot live up to the myth of the good mother

Overcoming burdens and making a positive impact

The strength of a mother lies not only in her ability to overcome the burdens she has endured but in being able to harness those hardships and make a positive impact on all those who are fortunate enough to receive their love.

Many have not had the privilege to experience the gentle love and support of a mother, this role may have been absent or filled by another figure, but they still managed to overcome the odds and succeed. This demonstrates how compassion allows us to grow, yet adversity may strengthen us too. Adversity can take many forms, some that may shape you and others that might break you, but the burden of abuse in our country should not be a challenge that anyone should have to endure.

Mothers are vulnerable in our society

My focus is on mothers not because they are the only ones who can be nurturers, protectors or mentors (a strong father-figure may do the same) but rather because they are vulnerable in our society.

We have, for too long, turned a blind eye to instances of abuse, whether verbal, emotional or physical and this has led to a culture where too many men remain idle in the battle of violence against women and children.

This suffering is a plague to our continent, and it needs to end. It has long been time to show courage and stand up for the vulnerable.

As men, it is now our turn to do our part in helping to facilitate an environment in which all humans may thrive without the constant threat of harm.



While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.

SAPS Emergency Services 10111
Toll-free Crime Stop number 086 00 10111
GBV Command Centre Contact the 24-hour Gender Based Violence Command Centre toll-free number 0800 428 428 to report abuse
STOP Gender Violence Helpline Tel: 0800 150 150/ *120*7867#
South African Police Service Report all cases of rape, sexual assault or any form of violence to a local police station or call the toll-free Crime Stop number: 086 00 10111
Legal Aid South Africa Call the toll-free Legal Aid Advice Line 0800110 110 for free legal aid if you cannot afford one
Commission for Gender Equality Report Gender Discrimination and Abuse: 0800 007 709
South African Human Rights Commission Call 011 877 3600 to lodge a complaint about human rights violations.
Domestic violence Helpline Stop Women Abuse: 0800 150 150
AIDS Helpline 0800 012 322
The Warrior Project FREE legal helpline for victims of domestic abuse: 0860 333 353
People Opposed to Woman Abuse(Powa) http://www.powa.co.za, Tel: 011 642 4345
Child Welfare South Africa http://childwelfaresa.org.za/, Tel: 074 080 8315
Childline South Africa http://www.childlinesa.org.za/, Tel: 0800 055 555
Families South Africa (Famsa) http://www.famsaorg.mzansiitsolutions.co.za/, Tel: 011 975 7106/7
Tears Foundation http://www.tears.co.za/, Free SMS helpline: *134*7355#, Tel: 010 590 5920
The Trauma Centre http://www.trauma.org.za/, Tel: 021 465 7373
Thuthuzela Care Centres http://isssasa.org.za/