Swaziland: Secret to development lies in empowering women

Swaziland: Secret to development lies in empowering women

Date: August 27, 2014
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Matsapha, 16 April: The Local Government and Leadership category at the SADC Protocol@Work Summit was tightly contested as councils sought to outdo each other as they demonstrated how they are implementing the provisions of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. Case studies presented in this category confirmed, in Mankayane Councillor Sithembile Mazibuko’s words that, “the secret to the development of nations lies in empowering women.”

Mazibuko said that it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that women are not selfish and have the interests of not only their families but also the community at heart. She began her presentation by narrating an emotional story where one man in her community neglected his own children.

“One woman had a very selfish husband in my community. He only bought food for himself and never bothered himself with the welfare of his children. I could see tears running down his wife’s face as she narrated her ordeal to me. Her husband would eat greedily, his children hoping to get a share of the meal, but such never happened,” said Mazibuko. According to Mazibuko, it is because of gender inequalities that are prevalent in society, which is why it is important to empower women in all spheres of all development.

All the presentations had a recurrent theme, that of the importance of equipping women with knowledge on social challenges such as gender-based violence, HIV and crime, to name a few.

Khangezile Mamba, who is in the Municipal Council of Manzini, underlined the importance of providing women with a forum where they can discuss development-oriented projects. She also pointed out that men were not hostile, as some may believe, but said they needed to be educated on gender equality.

However, in pursuit of transforming The Kingdom of Swaziland into a developed and gender sensitive nation, the presenters pointed out that the dependency culture must be tackled.

“The Swazi community still needs to be educated on how to be self-reliant instead of relying on handouts. Women in rural communities are left stranded when handouts are cut,” said Mazibuko.

She added that if women are not empowered with information and life skills in making better and informed choices; there will always be disadvantaged and development suffers.

Asked about her future plans in her council, Mazibuko said she is going to lobby her council to allocate a budget to empower women, lobby for equal benefits for women and men when it comes to tendering processes.

This article is part of the GL News Service special coverage of the SADC Gender Protocol Summits underway across the region, offering fresh views on everyday news.


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