Bennedict Bennet – Swaziland

Bennedict Bennet – Swaziland

Date: July 1, 2015
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Some years back, I did not want gender equality. To me it was not good, because I believed in our culture at the time. My father used to tell me that a woman is a woman, nothing a woman can do is better than what a man can do. A man must do everything for the woman. The woman must just sit and listen, and do what the man tells her to do.

I don’t believe that today because of Gender Links (GL) and what they taught me. They taught me a lot. My first experience with GL was sometime in 2000. A kid was teaching us at a hotel, a young young woman. At first, I did not accept that a young woman could teach me anything. As we progressed with the training, I learned a lot. Most importantly I realised that even if a woman is young, we have to listen, because she is a human being just like me.

At the training, we discussed issues surrounding achieving gender equality, that women should have equal opportunities at work, in leadership roles and in every way imaginable. Last year, I attended another GL training and we were shown how women are hard workers and they do not rest. For example, if my wife and I were to work in the fields for the day, at the end of the day I could sit alone by the tree. My wife, however, would be expected to go and cook for me. Now, I will cook. GL helped me change a lot, especially my attitudes towards women.

In Swaziland, we have elections coming up. As a former mayor, I am telling people to vote for more women. People trust me because I was a councillor, so everything I tell them, they take it as it is. The problem right now is that women are afraid to register as candidates. Out of 13 possible, there are only 2 women candidates. There is still that stigma that only men are supposed to be in front. It will take a lot of effort to change that stigma, because right now they are still seeing themselves as inferior.

We would therefore like to start with girls education. As a town, we’ve decided to bring Ncane, country director at GL in collaboration with Amical, an NGO that works closely with GL, to come and teach families how to treat girls and boys equally. I hope to see our community treating our children equally in the future.

What we have done so far is not enough. It has not changed the number of women in politics. Maybe in the next elections, but not this one. Making big changes like this is a long term project. I hope to see women in leadership roles after the next election. If women are in leadership positions, Swaziland will progress a lot. Women do not hesitate when they want something, you cannot change their minds, and that is a good thing for our country.


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