Eswatini was recently introduced to its new members of Parliament (MPs) with representations of all 59 local Constituencies. Out of these 59 represented constituencies, only two women successfully made it through the elections. These results are rather disappointing and discouraging for the course toward gender equity where both men and women should be provided equal opportunities in all aspects.
Regardless of the countless advocacy efforts on the “Vote for Women” campaigns led by CANGO & WLSA, we unfortunately did not make the constitutional mark of 30% women representation in Parliament. Of note though, is the fact that women still made their representation under the traditional leadership structures such as Community leaders (Bucopho).
In a bid towards uncovering the barriers that prevent women from participating ad being represented in decision making processes; Women and Law - Swaziland implemented the “Breaking Barriers: Enhancing Swazi Women’s Participation and Representation in Decision Making” project with the aim of creating a platform for women’s political endeavors and roles in society and to equip them with knowledge and skills that enable them to participate actively in decision-making processes at all levels.
The overall objective of the project was to promote equal participation and representation of women and men at all levels of decision-making processes in Eswatini. The specific objective of the project was to strengthen the capacity and leadership skills of women to confidently claim their rights and effectively engage in decision making processes.
The project kick started with a Baseline study on women participation in leadership positions which looked at barriers and opportunities and also made recommendations on measures that could be undertaken for women participating in leadership positions. The findings of the study revealed that indeed women need to be equipped with leadership skills in order for them to effectively participate in the electoral processes.
Despite the eventual election results, local NGOs are standing strong for the country’s progress by setting a specific Parliamentary agenda to guide our Honorable Parliamentarians as they tackle issues of importance faced by Swazi citizens.
Prior to the announcement of the final results, WLSA engaged female electorates through a Women’s Convention platform where there were deliberations on findings of the research on barriers to women’s participation in decision making as well as the Women’s Charter de. Moreover, an agenda for Parliamentarians was developed to take concrete steps towards enhancing equal participation and representation of men and women in decision making processes. The convention further came up with a position paper which WLSA will use as an advocacy tool to influence national legislatives and policy reforms at national level. This sets the bar in discussions for the Parliamentarian’s term in office.
Given the opportunity, this set agenda can be provided to the newly placed Parliamentarians for articulation during their tenure. The agenda items were as follows:
Health & SRH