Times of Swaziland
26 September 2008
Why ‘Vote for Woman’ failed
MBABANE – The ‘Vote for a Woman Campaign’ has attracted the attention of people outside the country as far as Britain.
According to a journal entitled neotherbusiness, which features a variety of articles from around the world, they too few the Vote for Women campaign as having little success.
An example is made of a candidate who was the only woman of 19 women out of 175 chiefdoms to make it through to the secondary level of elections.
She was, however, unsuccessful in her dream to make it as a female MP.
The writers note that she may see this as the end of the road in her crusade to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and encouragement of female empowerment across the kingdom.
"You see, there has been a significant need for gender empowerment in Swaziland for many years, and still little progress has been made.
"For instance, Swaziland is currently the only Southern African country that has not endorsed the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)," the report notes.
Lomcebo Dlamini of the WLSA (Women and Law in Southern Africa) is quoted saying: "We currently have five women MPs out of 65 overall.
It has been reported that many women standing for election have been threatened and intimidated.
"We are still awaiting the results of one of the constituencies to be released this coming weekend, which could bring us up to seven."
This is still a long way off the minimum 30 percent.
It is noted that the female illiteracy rate is high because of the traditional belief that women belong in the kitchen.
And despite government taking measures to meet the 30 percent female representation in Parliament, women’s participation is sometimes viewed as a token gesture rather than a sign of their credibility.
"Even if we take gender equality out of the equation, it is still very hard, if nigh on impossible, to state that these were free and fair elections.
For a start, political parties were not permitted to contest the current state of affairs.
This restriction - as stated by the Pan African Parliament - places infringements on the rights of those people wanting to take part in elections and is nowhere near any type of democracy," states the report.
Diane Mariechild, one of the British women quoted said: "A woman is the full circle.
Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform."
This should be recognised throughout the world, because surely all women should have the right to live in dignity, in freedom from want and freedom from fear.