Swaziland: Adressing partriarchy in Swaziland

Swaziland: Adressing partriarchy in Swaziland

Date: December 1, 2015
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Ezulwini, 9 July: The second day of the Gender Links national summit was marked with tension and excitement as more than 80 presenters battled it out in various categories. Contestants presented their initiatives that were aimed at alleviating the gender disparities between men and women in the Kingdom and addressing patriarchy.

Samora Makama narrated an emotional story of how partriachal pressure almost drove him to the brink of insanity. As a result of his personal challenges, Makama established an organisation called Men in Action Against Violence and Abuse to try and teach men and boys on how to recognise and take responsibility for the patterns of their hurtful behaviour.

“Statistics shows that 1 in 5 women aged 15-49 are beaten by their husbands, whereas 1 in 200 men are beaten by their wives. This disparity, however, might be due to the fact that men do not report abuse for fear of embarrassment,” said Makama.He encouraged men to be open enough whenever they faced some challenges in order for them to be better assisted as the country gears up Post 2015. Makama said it was vital that men and women work together for the development of their communities. “I am confident that with the advocacy we do nationwide, in changing the patriarchal beliefs instilled on us, men would soon learn to understand that God created us equally. Communication is a man’s greatest downfall. The norm that men should keep their problems to themselves because it is not manly to cry for help, will be soon be a tale in this Kingdom of eSwatini,” assured Makama.

Likewise women participants and presenters urged men not to see them as threats but rather as partners in national development initiatives and rather establish mutual relationships. These are the relationships that will reinforce the country’s effort in attaining First World Status by 2022.

This followed a submission by a myriad of the presenters that the concept of gender was misunderstood by many citizens of the Swazi nation, particularly males, as they think women want to replace them from being heads of the households.

Nompumelelo Nyawo, who presented under the Faith Based Organisations category, lamented the snags they are subjected to as women at the hands of men. She said church leaders who are predominantly males, quote and misinterpret bible scriptures that would propel them (women) to be men’s ‘puppies’.

“The church is one culprit of gender. Pastors often misinterpret the verse which says a woman should keep quite so as to silence women to their advantage. A woman has a right to preach the word of God and I am glad that some developments have already been made in ordaining women pastors, nationally and globally,” said Nyawo.

Meanwhile, Neli Sihlongonyane of Gone Rural Bomake stressed the importance of empowering disadvantaged women as opposed to giving them hand-outs. She said the donor philosophy was the reason many of the rural communities in the country were afflicted by poverty because people are used to getting hand-outs as opposed to being empowered to work for themselves.

“In our organisation, we have prioritised the training of women on skills that will give them a sustainable living than to giving them hand-outs. Instead of giving our participants money to start businesses for instance, we teach them how to save and manage their own money. In doing this, groups of women and young people support each other in saving and managing their locally available resources that they can use to invest in small market enterprise,” said Nyawo.

Sifundzile Manana of the Girls’ Empowerment Programme reiterated Nyawo’s assertion that women empowerment is key to development. She encouraged the Swazi community to support each other and not discriminate against one another. Manana quoted Wilma Rudolph who said: “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential of greatness lives within each of us, regardless of gender.”

In the countdown to the 2015 deadline for the 28 targets of the SADC Protocol and Gender and development, the summit presented an opportunity to measure the progress that has been made towards the attainment of gender equality in Swaziland.

This article is part of the Gender Links News Service special coverage of the SADC Gender Protocol Summits underway across the region, offering fresh views on everyday news




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