Swaziland: DPM officially opens the third Swaziland Gender Protocol Summit

Swaziland: DPM officially opens the third Swaziland Gender Protocol Summit

Date: July 7, 2015
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Ezulwini, 7 July: Swaziland Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini has applauded the Swazi government for placing gender issues at the appex of national development agenda. Dlamini made these remarks as he officially opened the country’s third SADC Gender Protocol Summit in Swaziland.

The event opened at the Royal Swazi spa on Monday amid pomp and ecxitement as more than 80 delegates gathered to showcase case studies on gender mainstreaming in the Media, Local government and Alliance categories. This year the summit takes place under the strapline: “Now, and Post 2015, Yes We Must!”. 2015 marks the end of the targets of the 2008 SADC protocol on Gender and Development. SADC Gender Ministers have opened up the protocol for review post 2015.

In his remarks Dlamini commended the Swazi government for mainstreaming gender issues in its policies, legislations, programmes and projects for the betterment and improved livelihood of the Swazi society.

“It is encouraging to note that our efforts are being acknowledged and appreciated in promoting gender issues in the region. His Majesty, the Ingwenyama of eSwatini, recently received an award for mainstreaming gender issues, and Her Majesty, the Queen Mother, also received an award in Brazil last year for the empowerment of women in the country. These developments demonstrate that as a country, we are on the right path in promoting entrepreneurship and business growth, especially small businesses, which are the engine for growth and development,” Dlamini said.

He further commended all summit award entrants for working tirelessly in assisting government in its efforts to making inroads towards achieving the difficult targets by initiating significant projects deemed worthy for nomination. Elaborating, Dlamini said he did not doubt that the projects presented will impact positively on the livelihoods of the Swazi populace.

“We are grateful that in 2014, some of our contestants who represented us in Johannesburg received some awards. We are hopeful that the contestants who will make it to Botswana, this year, will win most of the awards,” said the DPM. Swaziland has put in place legislative and policy frameworks to ensure that women and men as well as girls and boys, fully participate in development, he highlighted. He said in a meeting of ministers responsible for gender and women affairs, which was held in Harare (Zimbabwe) in May, ministers responsible for science, technology, and innovation were tasked with establishing a subsidiary organisation to address the challenges faced by women in those sectors.

“In the meeting, ministers unanimously noted the need to review the targets in the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and embrace the post 2015 targets to be adopted by Heads of State in August this year,” disclosed Dlamini.The DPM further expressed appreciation to the event organiser, Gender Links, and its development partners, including the European Union, UNDP as well as officials from both government and civil society, among others, “for your tireless efforts and material contributions towards the success of the summit”.

“It is inspiring to witness such a high turn up and this demonstrates that you embrace gender issues. I wish to thank every stakeholder that has supported this initiative to be the success it is,” the DPM added. Gender Links is an international non-governmental organisation advocating for equal socio-economic rights between men and women. The summit operationalises the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development that Swaziland ratified in December 2012 with the objective to reward best practices and initiatives for efforts in the attainment of the SADC Protocol Targets.

Dlamini also bemoaned the gender misconceptions that exist in the country saying these need to be corrected and unpacked so that everyone in Swaziland has the same understanding of gender. He further acknowldged the role that civil society is playing to support government in its gender mainstreaming efforts and campaigns.

“It is important that we talk to each other and strengthen the existing campaigns on gender issues. Gender issues are probably not interpreted in the right way, hence they are not understood well. Swazis are generally aware of gender issues and therefore, it is high time we say what we mean so that people know what to do. It is also important to know who you are talking to and whom you are representing when addressing such issues,” he noted.
Elaborating further, Dlamini said, “Like many other countries, Swaziland has her own traditions and it is difficult to discard them because that is the way we were socialised and raised. Just as King Sobhuza II said, we need to listen to what the world is saying and look at what we can take and what we can disregard. Therefore, we need to sell the gender agenda in a positive manner so that everyone accepts it.”

Dlamini also alluded to the fact that there are many targets to be met by the country in as far as gender issues are concerned. “We understand that there are many targets. However, if we work together, we will succeed,” he said. The inequality gap between men and women is a major concern in the country. The DPM mentioned that there are a number of factors that promote inequality among women and men in Swaziland.

Gender Links has worked systematically to contribute to the attainment of the SADC Gender Protocol targets. Gender Links Board member Bennedict Bennet highlighted that GL has put in resourses to ensure that its efforts succeed.

The summit will end with an awards ceremony to recognise and acknowldge individuals and organisations that have contributed to the gender agenda in the last year.

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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