The Kingdom of Swaziland and the SADC Secretariat joined the rest of the world and jointly commemorated the International Women’s Day on March 8, 2017 under the theme “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030” in Manzini, Kingdom of Swaziland.
The objectives of the commemoration was to recognize Women for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political; it was an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.
The Right Honorable Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland, Senator Paul Dlamini, officially opened the commemoration at Mavuso Exhibition Centre emphasizing that “Women’s socio-economic empowerment is an essential component of sustainable development hence the need to commit on placing women at the center of initiatives that world see them playing a pivotal role in the world of work.” Improving women’s economic status has a positive correlation to women’s representation in politics and decision making bodies. Therefore women’s representation in politics and decision making positions remain a key socio-political indicator towards the attainment of the SADC 50% target of women representation at all levels of in leadership. He added. Senator Dlamini concluded by encouraging women as a group to aspire for leadership positions and have confidence in themselves and actively participates in politics in order to increase their representation.
The SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Finance and Administration, Ms. Emilie Mushobekwa highlighted SADC’s commitment to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment which is outlined in the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), the Industrialization Strategy and the Protocol on Gender and Development, in particular Articles 15 to 18 of the Protocol on Gender and Development, on Economic Policies and Decision making; Multiple Roles of Women; Economic Empowerment; access to property and resources and Equal Access to Employment and Benefits which resonates well with this year’s theme which will ultimately contribute to Economic Development, Peace and Security in the Region.
In conveying the United Nations Secretary General’s message, the UN Resident Coordinator for Swaziland, Mr. Israel Dessalegne said the UN theme for this year‘s International Women’s Day is “ women in the changing world of work: planet 50:50 by 2030. The rational behind this theme is to find better ways in which the world can accelerate success towards the global 2030 Agenda, considering the historical imbalances between men and women with the aim of improving the position of Women in society.
Her Excellency, USA Ambassador in Swaziland, Lisa Peterson stressed that Gender Equality starts with asking the right questions about inclusion, diversity and privilege. Gender Equality cannot be attained without robust and enlightened participation of progressive men. “We may not have all the answers today, but we do have the tools, financial and human resources to start finding solutions for gender equality.” She concluded.
The commemoration also profiled the Woman Farmer of the Year 2016, Ms. Mhlophe Mhlanga; Junior Achiever Africa Winner 2016, Ms. Neliswa Bhembe, Swaziland Women Economic Empowerment Trust (SWEET) Operational Manager, Ms. Thulisile Dladla for their greater achievements.
The United Nations began celebrating 8th March as International Women's Day in 1975 and in 1977 the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.