SWAZILAND: International Day of Rural Women Commemorations

It is on the 4th November that Rural Women’s Assembly Swaziland chapter was able to celebrate the International Day of Rural Women which is a day that is celebrated a day before the World food day. This day basically acknowledges the role played by the hands that produce the food and, not just food, but healthy food which is organically produced mostly by the rural women.

The Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly (SRWA) celebrated International Day of Rural Women at Ekupheleni community in the northern part of the country. It was themed “One Woman, One Hector, One Seed Bank.” Women brought their traditional seeds to display and share on the day. This was also an opportunity to educate the community about climate change which has in the past affected farming immensely. Just last year, the country was hit hard by floods. Some members of SRWA couldn’t get yield while others worked extra hours to get rid of the water in their field. Sister Lonhlanhla Mthethwa explains, “I worked extra hours putting sand bags in the field so that the soil is not washed away.”

The issue of climate change seems to be be deliberately down played by our government who supports capitalist activities that are dangerous to the environment. Government representatives from all over the world have been attending COP meetings year after year, but emissions are still growing instead of being reduced. This is a setback and a direct threat to farmers, the majority of whom are women, and Food Sovereignty.

It is always very difficult to just celebrate the work done by women without expressing the serious challenges women are facing in the process to produce the food. Another challenge is that in Swaziland women are still denied their right to access and inherit land, which we also believe contributes to Gender-Based Violence (GBV). This conduct by traditional authorities is done despite legislation in the Swazi constitution in Section 211 which allows women access to land without a male figure. This discriminatory act is enshrined in the cultural belief that a woman is always a subject and even a newly born boy baby has power over an adult woman. 


Actions done by SRWA to curve climate change

Activities like the International Day of Rural women have continuously advocated for agroecology as a sustainable farming practise.

SRWA encourages members to do community seed sharing to enable people to get seeds from one another and talk about the importance of the seeds. 

Even though domestic emissions don’t cause much damage, rural women must still ensure that they play their role in climate justice through continuously doing actions like plant ploughing, educating members about agroecology as a sustainable climate mitigation measure etc.

SRWA demands that the government:

• Signs and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants (UNDROP).

• Give land to women

• Declares GBV a national emergency

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