Fikile Mathunjwa – Swaziland

Fikile Mathunjwa – Swaziland

Date: June 30, 2015
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Fikile Mathunjwa works for the municipality as the AIDS and services program manager; she is also a social worker, and coordinates the wellness programme within her workplace. She develops strategies to empower women inside her work environment as well as in the community. In the community, she also assists in preparing proposals for resource mobilization on issues of social development and HIV/AIDS. Mathunjwa also ensures the mainstreaming of gender in all council business to address gender disparities. Her involvement in a psycho social support program earned her an opportunity to be a part time lecturer at the University of Swaziland.

After her first meeting with Gender Links, there was a disconnect, because she moved from Nhlangano to work in Mbabane. Her relationship with Gender Links revived in 2012 when she met Ncane Maziya. In that reconnection, her mindset on gender issues totally changed. She had misconceptions before; she believed that women could not do anything without men, because of being raised in a patriarchal society. It has all changed now because she is knowledgeable. She realized that she is a complete human being without being attached to a man, and she recognizes her rights as a woman. Not only has that changed within herself, but it has also changed the way she relates with other people. She continued to say she doesn’t see men as her superiors but her equals.

She gives credit to Gender Links for being a real eye-opener, and making her more effective in her work. She gained skills and was empowered. Through working with Gender Links, she learned to be more assertive and more competitive; she is not afraid to explore new ground. She further said that her belief system changed and her experience with Gender Links has been a total makeover for her. It has also brought a passion for participating in home based care, with a specialty in child protection.

Mathunjwa said that her boss at work has been supportive; he didn’t judge her because she was a woman, but looked at her capabilities. He encouraged her in her work, and he believed that she has the potential to become one of the best leaders. When she first came to the council, her program was a stand-alone. Now it has been accepted with the support from her boss, and a budget was allocated for it too. He also acknowledged the importance of care work done by volunteers. Apart from her boss, her siblings and her daughter have been supportive.

Mathunjwa believes that change in one’s life consequently changes the lives of those around. “When a person is doing incredible work, some would want to be like that person and they may even become a role model,” she said. She also believes that coming to a space with fresh ideas and new energy has been a great tool for Gender Links. She said that in the council, she was able to make the relationship between care work and gender disparities visible. She has managed to openly challenge gender stereotypes, and whatever difficulties she encounters she keeps in touch with the Gender Links office.

In the future, she wants to do a Masters in Gender Studies to be the instrument of change for the council on gender issues. There are opportunities to sensitize people about gender. In concluding thoughts, she said that she wish to see Gender Links having a library.



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