Benjamin Msane – Swaziland

Benjamin Msane – Swaziland

Date: May 29, 2012
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The fight for gender equality in Swaziland has not always been an easy one for me. I am a councilor in Mbabane, and the focal point for gender. In Swaziland, people’s mindsets are deeply rooted in traditional values. Many communities find it hard to regard women as equals with men. To them, the idea of gender equality is nothing but another person’s ideas and values being forced on them.

Before I started working with Gender Links, I thought I know a lot about gender. But once I started training with Gender Links, I saw how much I didn’t know. Now, I know how to prioritize gender in budgeting issues, for example, as well as the importance of having women’s voices in everything we do. Gender Links really lit my torch on gender issues, and nourished my understanding of what women and men can do to work towards gender equality.

The way gender issues are regarded in Swaziland is shocking. It wasn’t easy to convince other men to buy into the 50/50 campaign. They said that if it’s another person’s idea, it mustn’t be forced on everyone. With time, however, people are becoming more open to getting information on gender. It is my role to sensitize the community on gender, as well as bring in a gender dimension on the legal documents drafted by the council. As an overseer of the gender agenda and many other issues on welfare, I have noticed things change in the council with the passage of time.

Working with Gender Links has taught me important skills; for exempt, about diligence, and time management. I have learned that sometimes in life you can achieve more by running than by walking. It’s not always easy working with councils, but we must have persistence to push our business forward. Moving ahead, I want to build on the awareness raising work that I’ve already done in the community. Now that attitudes are opening, we have an opportunity to do more on gender issues at the community level, as well as further mainstream gender in all aspects of the council’s programmes.


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