Eswatini: Sithembile Simelane

Eswatini: Sithembile Simelane

Date: November 21, 2020
  • SHARE:

“I am able to support my family and developed a programme that seeks to change their entire engagement process.”

Our organisation partnered with two stakeholders to host a flagship event which was targeting Siteki local economy. The event was dubbed “Siteki historic Braai and SMEs day”. I was representing my organisation as CEO through the logistics. Logistics went well from initiation to Authorities (Board) approval. We used to have weekly preparatory meetings as partners and reported to my principals frequently through the Chairperson. I would sometimes invite him to the preparatory meetings for ease of following the whole concept of the event. The event was to turn the face of my organisation in terms of exposing local business practitioners to more business opportunities.

I was very hurt when things changed a week before the event when the board decided to disown the event and misinterpreted every logistic for a self-campaign though I did not know to what. Things turned so sour in the male dominated environment where each and every one through his negative thoughts on me while I am incubating this golden opportunity for the change of Siteki in terms of economic participation from vendor to big businesses.

These were very difficult times because I could feel that my emotions were challenged with false accusations to an extent that I was denied to say a word in the process. I kept quiet feeling my eyes glassy because of upcoming tears which I had to resist, I did not want this group of men to see any tear from me. I must say it was not easy to handle this while the media had started to flock in number for update news on the flagship event. I could quickly get into the office, lock myself for 5 minutes cry, wipe myself, go to the bathroom to wash my face, put on some make-up and face the camera.

I was still an accountant in Nhlangano Town Council, in 2008 or 2009 when i was invited to the first meeting by Gender Links. I remember Susan was doing more of the facilitation. We expected that she had come to speak about women disrespecting their husbands. She led us to the Roles and professions paper plugs which she made us to attach each role to gender. We were surprise to see how stereotypic we were. We even though professionals such as nursing are not females. The whole exercise was an eye opener on its own on gender equality issues.

During the journey from introduction of gender protocol to its operationalisation, I have really seen some difficulties in accepting this new phenomenon more especial from males. The gender links Country Manager came to my municipality one day to facilitate development of action plan in terms of integrating gender into council plan. The plan was not finished and adopted; it faced some resistance as the male dominated council felt we want to start campaigns against them to lose elections. This attitude was managed until such a time that the board relaxed and the next appointed CEO a female. The current gender champion is a male. these are positive developments as far as gender is concerned in Siteki.

To create legacy through creating an enabling environment (Physical environment and personal environment) for fellow women to have a voice on matters that concerns them while putting emphasis on the fact that you live once, so it now or never.

I am able to support my family and developed a programme that seeks to change their entire engagement process