Zanele Thwala – Swaziland

Zanele Thwala – Swaziland

Date: July 1, 2015
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Zanele Thwala has worked in the department of health for government. She also works closely with community-based support groups as a home based carer, where she offers services to HIV patients. She facilitates workshops on issues of gender based violence, child protection and development. In schools, she had a program training students on reproductive health, home management and sanitation. She was awarded the opportunity to spearhead several agricultural projects on home improvement and food safety in partnership with AMICALL and other organizations.

Working with Gender Links has helped her gain experience in her line of work. She said that the introduction of the gender aspect into society has been an eye-opener on issues of home management, poverty and peace. Before the intervention of Gender Links, she considered gender a ‘light’ issue. She didn’t understand the roles women can play in society. Growing up, she was told that women are less than men, and have to be submissive to them, even when they feel oppressed. The programmes have helped her read and research more about gender issues. Furthermore, it made her understand the pride of a woman. If you put a thought in a woman, she can magnify and spread it. She said that coming to Gender Links with an open mind has helped her. When Gender Links came in, it brought some light in, but she had a lot of questions. She gives credit to Gender Links for organizing programs that are relevant to her day to day experiences, and she participated in a number of trainings. Furthermore, she said that she is grateful for the relationship she has with the GL country manager Ncane Maziya. Ncane has been able to provide reading materials such as brochures.

Through her work with Gender Links, she has improved her motivational skills, and her attitude changed. She has become less judgmental. She continues to say that she has adopted the saying “never judge anybody until you walk a mile in their shoes.” Her children and friends have played a big part in the changes in her life, and they have been supportive of her learning journey.

She believes that changes in one’s life can possibly change the people in the surrounding community. She said people have to learn the art of helping without expecting anything in return. Her desire to change society gets her to read about what is happening in the media and around the world. She further mentions that she read widely on issues of gender, and what legislations and policies are in place. Through her experiences and reading widely, she has been able to share information with Gender Links during workshops. She likes that sharing with the organization is a two way street. She also believes that she gets new knowledge while training some of the community members.

In the future, she wants to expand her knowledge on gender mainstreaming. She also wishes to reach a greater range of people through the network and award platform to talk on gender related issues. In addition to that, she wants to engage more in activities organized by Gender Links.


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