RWA Swaziland: Justice -Meaningful Participation and Inclusion-Swaziland situation

This month\’s theme comes at an interesting time for us Swazis in particular women since there are ongoing national elections which are first after a severe political unrest that left many deaths, wounded and emotionally unwell. These elections are conducted much against public outcry calling for dialogue to resolve the root causes of the political unrest. Despite all this the call by SAPSN for Justice – Meaningful Participation and Inclusion comes at the right time, yet a question still lingers for us on what would it be for Swazi women? 

Certainly the elections will not bring justice to many people, but will it offer women a room for meaningful participation? SRWA has not been vocal in galvanizing support for women contestants mainly because there is no agenda by anyone for women emancipation in any level. The lack of agenda and strong voice has historically betrayed the hopes of multitudes of women placed on the supposed candidates. These elections are expected to be fairer than previous ones mainly because the government is trying to regain public trust as Swaziland has been in political turmoil but it appears as the usual ones as before. One widowed woman at Ngcayini community in the Manzini region has been asked to withdraw from standing for elections as they say she is still in mourning and culturally it is not allowed for a widowed woman to stand in front of people. If this still happens, what meaningful participation will we hope for especially for rural women whom a majority are entangled in this patriarchal cultural webs to different degrees?

Inclusion appears to be a real struggle for us, as there are still cultural norms that prohibit our fully incorporation to issues of national interest. SRWA members at individual level who stood in the elections mostly in community levels or constituents had to toughen up against traditional structures who are a formidable force and influential. Some allege that these structures de-campaigned them and mobilized for their adversaries who are men. The call for inclusion in our case is yet to find meaning economical and otherwise. It is still a long struggle for us to achieve inclusion but our efforts warm our hearts and inspire our confidence, it will be a winnable battle.

For us to achieve SDG 5 and its targets and indicators we still have to double our efforts and hold the government to be accountable to these efforts equally. The call for Justice-meaningful participation and inclusion is a timely call for us and will be relevant for some time.

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