The Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly (SRWA) commemorated International Rural Women’s Day on 20 October 2016 with a public meeting at the Ekukhanyeni Inkhundla under the Manzini region. The day was celebrated under the theme: “Sivikela Imvelo,Nekutfutfuka KwaBo make, Ngekulwa nekugucugucuka Kwesimo Selitulu” English translation: Rural women in the front line in defense of climate change through nature conservation and development. Approximately 350 women from eleven chiefdoms of the Inkhundla attended the public meeting.
SWRWA invited representatives from the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture who gave short inputs on climate change and the conference of the parties (COPs) and seed policies. The representative from the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs spoke about the Paris Agreement and what it entails in relation to waste management resolutions, biodiversity and the benefits of selling environmental products as an income generating activity for local communities. She also highlighted that policies and plans are developed to mitigate climate change and to improve health, agriculture, and development in Swaziland. The representative from the Seed Quality Control Services in the Ministry of Agriculture spoke about CAADP, seed policies and the government approach to monitoring seed quality. These sessions were quite informative and raised some key issues, challenges and concerns among the rural women.
The women raised the following:
- The women demanded to know more the green fund on who benefits from it and how
- They also raised a challenge about how information is disseminated and raised the concern that information is not in an easily accessible language.
- The women demanded a meeting with the negotiators before the COP meeting in order to ensure that their issues are taken up to the COP.
- Women also raised the concern of productive seeds are no longer used and wanted to know why this is so.
- They also raised the concern of plants being pollinated by fields from neighboring fields as they are closely located
- Women demanded that indigenous seeds should be brought back and be produced for farming
- The women criticized the use of GMO seed because it supports capitalism
- The women demanded their own land for farming
- The women also demanded that the MP of that constituency to push in parliament that the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill (SODVB) should be passed into law urgently. The MP also challenged the women to speak about the SODVB where ever they to force it into law
*Report provided by Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly