Saturday, 16 March 2013

In Honour of The Us Ambassoder Her Exelency Makila James

Dear President Barack Obama
We the Swaziland Young Women’s Network are quite honored to have a sister, a leader and an anchor , Her Excellency Ambassador Makila James.

On the 15th of March 2012 we had the honor of commemorating the International Women’s day together with the Ambassador at one of the communities where we work at Mbasheni in the Hhohho region. The ambassador poured her heart out to about sixty participants who also kindly shared their experiences and asked questions on issues including Gender Based Violence, Sexual Reproductive Health Rights, culture, marriage, decision making, relationships and independence.
The Ambassoder Chating with Ennie Chibembere at our Anual Pink Scarf Dinner in 2012

We can not overlook the positive attitude, passion, energy and sisterhood spirit by Ambassador James. She has made deliberate efforts to understand Swazi culture as it relates to women’s rights issues. She has thrown herself selflessly in the struggle against patriarchy; she continues to engage with government on making women’s rights a reality. In all her endeavors the ambassador relates with the issues on the ground and we believe that her background in law and serving the vulnerable has made her in touch with the issues of young women and girls on the ground.

We can not thank you enough for choosing her to come serve in the country at a crucial time when we have organized as young women and put our arms against patriarchy. Whilst we suffer backlash from our own people who accuse us of a radical approach to addressing such issues the ambassador has opened her arms to us, to walk with us and support our course not only because of her passion but also because she believes that it is an injustice to discriminate against women. Our struggle is coupled by emotions since we have first hand experience of sexism, gender stereotypes and many other gross women’s violations and we can not miss the emotions, empathy and urge to make a difference in her life as she challenges us to create our own solutions and not to accept such injustices.

The Ambasoder Joined the Young women in Song and Dance at Mbasheni recently
We thank the entire team from the Public Affairs Department for working with the Ambassador to ensure that her dreams, vision and passion for this country is realized. We are blessed, honored and favored to have her at this time.
Yours in Sisterhood
Swaziland Young Women’s Network - SYWON

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Our National Coordinator Speaks on the 2013 Budget Speech!

As the world commemorated the International Women’s day on Friday, I personally wish to dedicate this day to the Member of Parliament Nonhlanhla Dlamini. Bravo on the looming motion to reject, analyze and engage the budget speech delivered by the minister of finance recently. The energy exuded by Dlamini is relevant to the needs of the country and some of us are luck to have learnet from her whilst she was still serving in the women’s movement.  I concur with the noble leader that “it is high time we  put the interests of the people first” and I feel I feel is should say that only a women leader could have such a beautiful insight and be inspired to see justice and democracy working for the people on the ground. Further we are curious as to why so much has been allocated to the armed forces. What about poverty reduction, education, agriculture and youth development among other key developmental concerns. To think of prioritizing infrastructure and the wage bill, much against the advice of IMF and the World Bank to minimize it. In a peaceful country with a unique system of governance why would we want to invest so much in military? In his remarks the minister of Finance says “our economic growth remains sluggish and significantly below our potential yet he later paints a picture that the storm is over, meaning that the gloomy phase has elapsed, which does not seem to translate into reality.
 I shall refer to the Civil Society’s economic recovery conference that was held at the convention centre under the banner of the coordinating Assembly of NGO’s (CANGO) which deliberated a great deal on strategies, opportunities and avenues that Swaziland may want to take advantage of, including but not limited to SACU Revenue, the manufacturing sector in Swaziland, mining and agriculture as well as the policies governing these sectors. To a great extent there was consensus that Swaziland could do better to revive her economy if she heeds advice and watch her spending habits and priorities. A great emphasis was made on putting in place the right policies to regulate these sectors and attract more genuine investment opportunities that will purely generate revenue for the country. One would have thought those submissions would have informed the budget speech positively in particular because they represent the views of the people on the ground.
It seems to me the minister of finance is misleading the nation by creating false hope that do not practically translate o action and sadly there are no pro active measures by his ministry to engage with the people largely affected by the service delivery in this country. A classic example would be the recent scholarship cut which was done without any consultation or even measures to engage the international community and philanstrophic institutions to assist towards educating the Swazi Child.  While the efforts of investing in primary education is commended the reality remains that Swaziland is a developing country and very few average Swazis can afford to fund their children’s tertiary education.
My appreciation for the Member of Parliament from Ludzeludze is that she is outspoken and not intimidated by her fellow colleagues in the house. Women leadership has been questioned, feminism being viewed as a door for disaster yet families, communities, the county and the entire global community has a lot to gain from it. Hence I wish to support the proposed motion by the MP to reject the budget speech: critically engage, analyze and reflect on our spending habits, priorities and challenges as a country and challenge ourselves to work towards sustainable development.
As we may all be aware that the nature of our troubles and tribulations are as a result of bad governance and leadership; we have given corruption a place where and systematically secluded the people on the ground. I am tempted to site the twenty emalangeni hike for the elderly grants as versus the thirty percent hike increment for the junior cops. Clearly we are a drowning ship yet no one wants to utter a word and no one wants to agree that there is need to engage on these pertinent issues.
Speaking of 2013 as a year of elections, I can not help but wonder if we shall have women of substance, in the likes of MP Nonhlanhla Dlamini, unfortunately I forgot my zooming lens which is why I shall only refer to her and loose count. How much of quality leadership from parliament have we had? How many of our leaders engage from an informed, relevant and development inspired point of view?  The answer to that shall be the disappearance of the vote of no confidence, which unfortunately vanished into thin air.
On a conclusion note, I wish to emphasize the need for Swaziland to implement her commitments to have more women leaders in parliament and stop violating her own constitution by not heeding. The constitutional clause on the election of additional four women to top up the women’s quarter. Who knows, we may have had a handful of Nonhlanhla’s in the basket, women who shall stand for equity. Happy international women’s day Swaziland, you have a diamond that shines in the darkest hours.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Ensuring a BRIGHT fFUTURE for Pregnant Girls in Swaziland

We as the Swaziland Young Women's Network (SYWON) informed by the realities of young teenage girls on the ground, launched a debate  in 2011 on whether young girls pregnant whilst in school should be chucked out. This emanated from the observations and concerns about the low literacy levels amongst women, cycle of poverty which bears a woman's face, high HIV /AIDS rate, perpetual dependency on men which limits women's dicision making power especially as it relates to  their sexual and reproductive health rights and many other concerns related to the right of women to basic education. The plight of young girls compeled the urge to dialogue and negotiate for transformative alternatives to allow these young girls access to education amidst all the chalanges.This debate sparked a negativity and backlash from some members of the public who felt that allowing such would open room for a public disater and perpetuate the "roten potatoe culture". 

However we are greatful to the recent development by the ministry of education. subsequent to the public statement by the Minister of Education and Training Wilson Thsangase, SYWON wishes to thank the goverment of Swaziland especially the ministry of education for intervening in this regard and coming out publicly to guarantee the protection of the pregnant girl child's right to education.  In a long time we had a common practise of schools expelling these young girls but now they will enjoy this right not by favour or symphathy but legitimatly because in the past, we did not have a policy warranting the expulsion but it was common practise.

 We are all aware that there are so many factors that result in these young girls falling pregnant whilst still in school, some of which have been highlighted but partially due to the fact that we have a high number of orphaned and vulnarable children (OVC) as a country, also as a result of abuse by immediate relatives and also as a result of intergenerational and transactional relationships.Whilst our constitution and national gender policy allows equal opportunities and several other regional and international instruments, we are happy to see our goverment moving from paper to people in trying to implement the potential victories promised to women and girls. 

These great news come at a time when we are geared  towards the international women's day under the theme"A PROMISE IS A PROMISE: TIME FOR ACTION TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND CHILDREN!". We are also hoping that the education on human rights and life skills offered by ourselves and other civil society organisations on the gorund alongside comprehensive legislation to protect women and girls from sexual violence shall continue to curb sexual coercion and promote good behaviour. Hence we wish to continue encouraging parliament to to enact the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill 2009 into an Act.

In Conclusion we remind society that women's rights are human rights and must be treated as such without any bias. As an organisation working on women's empowerment, we believe that the right to basic education is fundamental to sustainable development and particularly the education of girls is one way in which we can eliminate the cycle of feminised poverty.



Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Amplfying Young Women's Voices in Swaziland!

Sister Sister!!!!
One of the major things that SYWON seeks to do in the year 2013 is to ensure that the stories of young women in Swaziland and across Southern Africa are told. We intend to capture all the stories that young women are willing to tell and share them with the world. Thus we have created this blog. We call upon all you sisters out there to share stories on issues affecting you or affecting other young women in your areas, communities, cities or countries. You can write on any issue under Feminisim, Sexual Reproductive Health, Gender and Human Rights as well as Leadership. This is however not limiting, you are also welcomed to share stories of work that you may be doing in your communities in the advancement of young women, success stories, impact of SYWON work on you or people around you. Such stories can be emailed to or and they will be posted on the blog.
Let us amplfy our voices sisters!!!
Sister Sister!!