Sithembile Simelane – Swaziland

Sithembile Simelane – Swaziland

Date: June 6, 2012
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When I think of Gender Links, I always remember when the former governance manager, Susan Tolmay, came to Swaziland to conduct a training workshop on gender issues. She took us through an exercise in which she had cards with different job titles written on them; we were tasked with assigning these to the different sexes. As a learner, I discovered that we are stereotyped to certain functions by tending to align different positions to one sex, when in fact they can be applicable to both women and men.

I am the treasurer for the Siteki Town Council, and am part of the senior management team responsible for the town’s budget. My gender budgeting training has helped me to make a positive contribution to the team, and to see that the town budget takes into consideration the different needs of women and men. My journey with Gender Links has been an eye opener, because it has helped me to see the world through a gender lens.

The gender training I got from Gender Links has empowered me, and given me confidence to face the world. I used to be a very shy person and would not have the courage to talk in public, but today it’s all different. My communication abilities both at the community and family levels have improved immensely as she continues to engage with women from different backgrounds. I never used to mind about politics, but after I realised the importance of having the right people representing us, I have started working with other women to take up politics, because women are better leaders.

Having worked with Gender Links for the past three years, I am now able to see how my level of thinking has improved. Now I don’t mind balancing gender quotas when we recruit new staff, because I’m certain of the value of it. I have really gained a positive spirit, to encourage other women to participate in local structures, particularly at decision making levels.

In the future, I have plans to introduce the use of social media to women in local communities so that they are able to communicate and share their stories with other women from across the globe. This tool to connect people is very powerful. Currently, the town council holds quarterly meetings and I intend to take these gatherings to a higher level and use my slot to give more space to gender issues.

As a budding gender activist, I appreciate the initiative by King Mswati to sign the Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol. It is great that Gender Links approached my local authority to assist us in mainstreaming gender in our programmes. I now feel we can boldly embrace gender equality as a country at large. I would like to appeal to Gender Links to continue their support. We still need traditional structures to accept the gender equality concept; this is definitely challenge that lays in front of us.



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