Thabile Ginindza – Swaziland

Thabile Ginindza – Swaziland

Date: June 30, 2015
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Thabile Ginindza is one of the six women working in management at the Manzini City Council. She works as the AIDS Program Manager, and is also attached with AMICAAL as per their relationship with the town. She has been with AMICAAL for 7 years, and now she’s programme manager. She also coordinates the HIV response in Manzini, as well as facilitates the implementation of AIDS prevention strategies to those affected and infected. She is also the gender focal person for the Manzini City Council.

She keeps in touch with the community on a daily basis, because their programs are based on volunteers, and they involve a large number of women who cook for children and look into their well-being. They even have a minimum number of men who have interest in the programs. They have 8 care points where they feed about 1800 children per day. Some of these children are double orphaned, or from child headed families. In other cases you find that these children have parents who cannot afford to take care of them.

Being part of Gender Links has helped her a lot; before she only knew women as helpers of men, the minority part of human beings. She said, “I used to think women were supposed to get married to be respected in the community, and leave leadership roles to men as they have an upper hand in everything as it is in our Swazi culture.” The advocacy for women’s empowerment never made sense to her before, but now she knows that women and men are equal.

With the knowledge she gained, she is optimistic that women can be anything they aspire to be, especially if young women are empowered so that the scales have a balance. She is now enlightened on gender issues. Quite recently, she was given the responsibility of being the gender focal person for the council, and gives the credit for this to Gender Links. With the help of Ncane Maziya, they have been able to implement yearly plans on gender, and organize trainings for the council.

Through working with Gender Links, her facilitation skills have improved, and her confidence of talking openly about certain issues has strengthened. Now, she is comfortable talking about sensitive subjects like gender based violence. “I never thought I had so much power within myself. Now I have been given the chance to reach my full potential. When I was a young woman, I had low self-esteem. But my assertiveness has liberated me.”

One of the biggest challenges in her life was that she used to have difficulties organizing programs, whether at work or in the community, with the participation of both sexes. It was never possible for both women and men to feel safe and confident to contribute. Now, that’s completely different.

She believes that no one lives on an island; everyone needs a good support system. Everyone is part of a community, and what happens to one person affects the next person. If it’s positive, the community will benefit from it. This is also true of knowledge. If someone has knowledge and shares it, it will quickly spread. There’s a saying that she believes is true; “Educate one woman, you educate a community.”

She believes that she has an opportunity to change the community by being a young woman in her position. “I see the work differently now,” she said, “and when I’m planning, I am aware of the needs of each and every person in the community. Women aren’t left out, neither are men, or children. Everyone has specific needs, and we need to work for everyone.” Through her work she’s created new knowledge by pushing the agenda of gender across departments and attending summits enables her to show her knowledge through her presentations.

She sees the need for a person designated to work on gender in the council, because she doesn’t have enough time for gender issues only. She has a load of work as the AIDS programme manager, and she is doing more because she has a passion for it. In her future plans, she wants to up scale the response on gender mainstreaming, even though it is difficult to have a workload that is not funded. Financial shortages make it hard to reach to people; right now, she is depending on Gender Links to support her in this work. She is pushing to have something allocated for gender in the yearly budget for the council. She also wants to do a lot of girl empowerment activities in schools for the next year. She already has a small budget for workshops.


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