top of page

Reflecting on Human Rights Day in South Africa: Progress and Challenges

On Human Rights Day 2023, we at GrowZA join South Africans in reflecting on the progress made in social development and human rights, while acknowledging the persistent challenges that need addressing.


The 2021 World Report by Human Rights Watch points out that South Africa still faces significant human rights challenges. While the country has a progressive constitution, many rights are not fully realized. Key issues include gender-based violence, police brutality, restrictions on freedom of expression, racism, and discrimination against migrants and refugees.

Opportunities for progress

Despite these challenges, there are opportunities for growth. South Africa has a strong civil society sector advocating for human rights and social justice. Additionally, the government is increasingly recognizing the importance of social development and implementing policies and programs like the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Integrated Development Plan (IDP).

Actions to address challenges

To address human rights challenges and harness these opportunities, the following actions need to be taken:

  1. Strengthen the implementation of existing policies and legislation to ensure people can access their rights.

  2. Invest in social development programs such as education, health, and social protection to tackle poverty, inequality, and unemployment.

  3. Address gender-based violence through prevention, support for survivors, and holding perpetrators accountable.

  4. Promote diversity and inclusion by addressing racism, homophobia, and discrimination against people with disabilities.

  5. Support civil society organizations that advocate for human rights and social justice.

Successful initiatives

There have been successful human rights projects and initiatives in South Africa, such as:

  1. The Khayelitsha Commission, which led to decreased crime rates in the Khayelitsha township in Cape Town by improving policing and safety.

  2. The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), which provided temporary work opportunities and skills development to millions of unemployed South Africans.

  3. The National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, which aims to provide a comprehensive response to gender-based violence.

Role of civil society

Civil society organizations, like the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), have played a crucial role in advocating for human rights and social justice in South Africa, pressuring the government to address critical issues like access to HIV/AIDS treatment.

As we mark Human Rights Day in 2023, we recognize the progress made but also acknowledge the ongoing challenges. By taking a comprehensive and collaborative approach, we can work towards a more just and equitable society in South Africa, where all people can access their human rights. At GrowZA, we remain committed to playing our part in this important work through funding partnerships and community networks.

This is how we #GrowZA


bottom of page