The following is an interview put forward to a young men’s organisation which supports the One Billion Rising for Justice Campaign.
Here are some V-Men in the making!
1. What is the Swaziland Youth Empowerment Organisation and what do you do?
The Swaziland Youth Empowerment Organisation/ LUVATSI is a youth led organisation that exists in creating an enabling environment for maximum youth participation in all spheres i.e. socially, politically economically. The leaders are: Sizwe Bhomo Vilakati and Colani Nhleko. Luvatsi values personal development and confidence; and sees it as a cornerstone for any change in a society. Personal growth or development is a fundamental building block in as so far as it links and in relation, to the wider community and society. The organisation works to develop a young person with the ability to understand external societal influences and safely as well as healthily negotiate the relationship between themselves and such influences. As such, Luvatsi as on organisation chooses to remain independent of political partisanship.
2. What are your views on the status of women in Swaziland?
Luvatsi believes in women, thus the need to make the Swazi society aware that with proper nurturing and given a chance, the young women can take this country to greater heights in as far as political leadership is concerned. By the end of the project, the group is expected to lead a campaign to vote young women to political leadership positions from community to national level.
3. Why do you think men perpetrate violence against women?
It varies but the most common one is the manner in which men are cultured to an extent of assuming that their women are second class individuals hence they don’t deserve to be treated equally instead they (women) need to be respectful, submissive and must never questions anything men do or say. Men have been brought up and socialised to be strong and prove their masculinity on a woman, more especially when they are frustrated by not having money. when you are a real man you are defined as person with money, property and wealth, so most men then get frustrated since they cannot provide any of the above. it is even worse when the woman provides more than the man.
4. What do you think are the effects of violence against women, both on women as individuals and on communities?
Individually they turn to lose their self-esteem, they even regard themselves as not special, they just seize to take care for themselves.
In communities, they always take a backseat in community issues. most become very aggressive to an extent of hatred for men and not believing in working together. some even turn to be lesbians particularly if she is a survivor of rape and would also want revenge in what befell her.
5.What role do you think men can play in the empowerment of women and girls in Swaziland?
First of all, men need to be trained to understand women issues and then further have a forum where both men and women will discuss and engage issues which will make them live in peace. It is then that we will be in position to request them if not voluntarily take the lead themselves and be ambassodors of these women programmes or make them agent of change for the unrepentant men.
6. Tell us about your project and how you intend to use it to empower women and girls?
The civic education and women participation project is a kind of affirmative action informed by the experience Luvatsi has had since its existence. Women have always lagged behind in national issues, even those that directly affect them, thus leaving men to debate and make decisions which sometimes have very negative consequences.
The project seeks to correct such wrongs by providing civic education specifically to young women so to maximise their participation in political and leadership. The space/platform for young women to freely debate the political dispensation and governance issues in Swaziland in relation to SADC and UN standards, with a bias on women representation in parliament and government in general shall be created.
7. How do you intend to close the gap between young men and women in order to create healthy relationships and communities?
By encouraging young people to work collectively for a common goal. Immediately expected results will include having more organised youth groups from different communities, people who will meet from time to time and address problems that they are faced with. We also expect the youth to influence the new parliamentarians (mps) who will soon take seats on policies that will benefit them. In the different communities, we will want them to engage their mps and also petition them if it comes to that.
8. How does your work support the vision of the One billion Rising for Justice Campaign?
Luvatsi Supports one Billion Rising for Justice campaign through introducing the campaign in its fellow members, young man and young women to rise against any injustice that violates women and girls. We believe change needs to start within the youth since they are the future of the nation. If the young men can refrain from abusing women and girls, there shall be love and peace in the world . We believe if the young person can have the ability to understand external societal influences he/ she can be able to rise against any violations and make informed decisions. We believe in a free and peaceful society for all.