Swaziland: Partnerships key to success of gender equality efforts

Swaziland: Partnerships key to success of gender equality efforts

Date: July 7, 2015
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Ezulwini, 7 July: Speakers at the third SADC Gender Protocol summit have emphasized the need for stronger partnerships among government, civil society and the media. They say this will go a long to contributing to the achievement of the SADC Gender Protocol targets.

Gender Links Board member highlighted how GL’s alliance with local government and media has contributed to changing mindsets at the local government level. Bennett made this declaration during the official opening ceremony of the SADC Gender Protocol Summit 2015 that is taking place at the Royal Swazi Sun Convention Centre.

Addressing the Deputy Prime Minister, stakeholders and participants during the summit, Bennett disclosed that Gender Links has directed vast resources towards the success of the “Gender Agenda”, specifically the 28 targets of the SADC Gender Protocol, Gender and Climate Change.

“There is creditable progress made by Swaziland on gender issues. We have taken great steps in the right direction, but it was never easy. A lot of effort has been put, not only through human resource mobilization but also with finances and partnerships. We have been working on the measure of these targets, which is the Barometer – a tool that was established to assist governments in the region measure progress,” he said. Bennett also highlighted their alliance with the local government. He explained that since they started working in 2008, they had been working hand-in-hand with local municipalities – about 10 of them in Swaziland.

The need for men’s involvement in the various gender initiatives became evident during the summit, especially through community dialogues. Bennett clarified that, contrary to the common belief that Gender Links was solely advocating for women’s rights, the organisation focuses on gender issues that affect both men and women.

Emmanuel Ndlangamandla the Executive Director of CANGO said Swazis must desist from apportioning the blame but work together in addressing gender issues. Ndlangamandla said as non-governmental organisations, they have come too far with the gender journey. This has been through smart partnerships.

“We have worked with the civil society sector and partnered with government to deal with issues of women and girls. We have a good partnership with government on these issues and a strong partnership with Gender Links. The SADC Gender Protocol Barometer provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to take stock of progress. Ndlangamandla further emphasised that the findings of the barometer mean different things to different people depending on how one looks at them.
“This is a life-long journey. One needs to work on it and make their mark. These are very hard processes. We would like to thank government for being our partner and for embracing this gender movement. Our glass, as Swaziland, may not be full but we are getting there; let us work on the targets and improve where there is need,” he said.
Commenting on the value of partnerships Gender Links Media COE Facilitator and Consultant Comfort Mabuza called on the media in Swaziland to desist from using obscene imagery and any other content, which degrades women in order not to reverse the gains the country has made on the media front.

He highlighted, “We are what the media says we are,” said Mabuza referring to the power that media has in shaping our outlook and understanding of our life circumstances. The media has the power to build or to destroy. In his remarks Mabuza emphasised the need to control the media, particularly its content in relation to the portrayal of women and gender issues in the media. The media practitioner urged the media to be an agent of transformation and actively promote gender issues.

He said, “The local media must rise to the challenge by promoting robust debate on gender issues in society.” Mabuza is against the current media trends where messages that perpetuate gender violence and defamation of women make it into the news. “I am pleading with the media to stop promoting messages that promote gender based violence. This mostly comes about through slogans which reinforce the oppression of women.”

Mabuza further lamented the absence of women’s stories and programmes that promote gender equality in society saying,

“We urge our media to consult women on issues that touch on their well-being in society and increase content that portray women as valuable,” he said, adding that the media must give equal coverage on women issues and portray women positively.

Quoting from the SADC Gender Protocol, Mabuza encouraged the media to desist from:
– Promoting pornography and violence especially gender based violence
– Depicting women as victims of violence and abuse
– Degrading women especially in the area of entertainment
– Reinforcing gender stereotypes.

Gender Links is currently partnering with five media houses under the Centres of Excellence (COE) for gender in the media project and ten local municipalities. GL continues to partner with other civil society organisations under the banner of the SADC Protocol Alliance.

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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