Swaziland: Thobile Dlamini

Date: August 30, 2018
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 Swaziland: Thobile Dlamini 

 Thobile Dlamini is involved in community empowerment and human rights advocacy within Ngwenya Town where she is currently working. The program works with support groups of women infected and affected by HIV and AIDS and is under Social Development Programme at Ngwenya Town.  She provide services such door to door visits to offer services like psychosocial support, counselling and testing, condoms distribution (men and Women) and care and support. Community members are given information on human rights in relation to Sexual Reproduction Health and HIV and AIDS. The program believes that ill – health is detrimental to the development of the community and that people should be informed of their rights to respect and dignity. Partner organisations include WILSA and ICAP. She also work with young people to empower them and pass on the knowledge she usually get when she has attended a workshop. Dlamini also spread the awareness on the importance of user rights and decisions in family planning and to give women a voice in the household on issues pertaining family health. She also assist in fighting discrimination (in decision making) against people who are HIV positive.  

Thobile started knowing about Gender Links in 2010, when she was invited to a workshop at Ngwenya town board. This workshop was basically for women who have survived abuse, and was intended to empower them.  Then after she got invited to a training that was held at Esibayeni on GBV which was in 2012. Since she became part of GL workshops, she has learned a lot when it comes to gender issues which has helped her. She was also empowered as women to start businesses, and those who already had, were encouraged to grow them in order for their lives to be better. 

Dlamini has participated in many workshops hosted by Gender Links, including the SADC Gender Protocol@Work Summits, nationally and regionally. She has won a GBV Award in 2012 then went to participate in Johannesburg and in 2017 she won also in the joint summit in Polokwane, South Africa under the sexual and reproductive health and rights category. Through joining these summits, Thobile says she has gained a lot of exposure, knowledge and experience, learning from other participates. This experience has made her want to move forward in acquiring more knowledge and applying the knowledge that she has learnt to others so that they can also join in future.  

Dlamini has changed the way she used to perceive gender issues. She has gained confidence through the meetings that she has been attending she’s now able to understand gender clearly and that men and women are equal. She now understand that despite the different gender roles between two sexes but there’s still equality. She learned the importance of standing up for yourself as a women and being helpful in the community that you are living in as well as taking charge of your life. She is now well-educated and she’s able to educate others about issues of gender equity and equality in her community by organising meetings. Discussion of human rights health issues are of low priority in her community but she has managed to try ask support from all different aspect so that everyone can brings a different idea and/or solution to issues thus achieving meaningful success. The workshops and summits that she has been attending have help her to improve her interpersonal skill she’s now able to talk freely with people. 

Dlamini believes that if someone see her role model living a good life or according to morals that inspires her/ him to be something better or to change if he wasn’t doing something satisfactory. She wishes to join the elections so that she can be the next councillor and also that she gets more lessons in GL workshops that can empower them even more to improve them. Also that the youth can take initiative when projects that can teach them about future plans such as entrepreneurship can join them so they can learn to start their own businesses instead of wanting to be hired by companies. Lastly, to promote acceptability of human rights for people affected by ill health such as living with HIV and AIDS in the community and discourage discrimination through community dialogues and also break the huge barrier in the open discussion of SRHR issues since it has become a huge encounter in the country. Moreover, to engage men and boys in our meetings so that they are well informed about their SRHR and to focus on girls at school so that they are informed early about SRHR at an early stage, she said.