Following is the Media statement of the Eswatini Women’s Coalition/Movement. One Billion Rising is part of the women’s coalition/movement in Eswatini and One Billion Rising Eswatini/OBR Africa Director Colani Hlatjwako is part of the task team within the women’s coalition.

Liphimbo LaboMake, a non-partisan coalition of women from all walks of life – individuals, non-profit organisations, women’s groups, professionals and policy-makers – working towards the advancement of the status of women in Eswatini and whose vision is a just Eswatini where women are empowered, speak in one voice and enjoy their rights,

EXTREMELY CONCERNED about the current political unrest in the country;

DEEPLY SADDENED by and CONDEMNING the brutal attacks by national security forces on our unarmed children;

MOURNING AND HEARTBROKEN at the unnecessary bloodshed, tragic deaths and permanent physical and psychological injury to our people which we have seen firsthand, having visited hospitals and communities and spoken to those who have suffered loss;

ALIVE TO the fact that inasmuch as all are affected by this situation, women, as pillars of households, who are largely responsible for care and support in families, are disproportionally impacted by the current pain and suffering of our people; which is being exacerbated by restrictions such as the nation-wide curfew, that has been especially harmful to the businesses and livelihoods of women;

CONVINCED that the only way forward in this situation is inclusive and peaceful dialogue between all parties concerned, that will result in collective agreement by emaSwati on how they want to be governed and the process which will operationalise this desire for a democratic and accountable dispensation;

RECOGNISING that all too often women have been used as currency to bolster the political agendas of others without being accorded the relevant respect and opportunity to make meaningful contributions during political engagements and decision-making, and that this is unacceptable in view of the proportion of women in the population and their contribution to the country’s development;

CONVINCED also that there can be no way forward regarding the governance of the country and wellbeing of its people, that can effectively address the issues if women’s voices are absent;

CONVINCED ALSO that with our diverse experiences, professions, skills and collective power as women, we are more than capable of making meaningful positive contributions to this turning point in our nation’s history;

COMMITTED to ensuring that there shall be nothing about us decided without us being present to speak for ourselves through our duly mandated representatives;

RESOLVED at its meeting of the 7th July, 2021 to call for:

  1. The immediate cessation of hostilities and removal of armed security forces from our streets and communities.
  2. Government to respect freedom of assembly, association and expression as well as maintenance of an enabling environment for citizens to gather and/ or speak freely without fear of reprisal, and to carry out their business activities without undue restriction.
  3. Government to respect the rights to legal representation, due process, and fair and speedy trials, in particular ensuring that vulnerable women are not harmed by undue periods of detention.
  4. Engagement of all protest actions in a peaceful manner that avoid further damage to lives and property.
  5. Support (internal and external) – material, legal, medical, psychosocial, and otherwise – to
    families affected by the deaths and injuries occasioned by the state’s violence.
  6. Inclusion of women in any processes aimed at peacebuilding in the current situation as well as any dialogue and negotiation that will take place moving forward.

To this end, women have mandated Liphimbo LaboMake to speak on behalf of the women of Swaziland/ Eswatini and amplify our message through the press, social media, and civic education. To support the leadership undertake this important task of engaging with the different processes and stakeholders, Liphimbo has established a Task Team and Think Tank to advise on and operatinalise strategies to ensure that women are not left behind and that women’s issues are not deprioritised as the country transforms.

Liphimbo will continuously engage the different stakeholders involved, including government, traditional authorities, MPs, political parties, the church, civil society, the international community as well as business and other sectors on the women’s perspective in these developments.

In the immediate term, Liphimbo will:

  1. Establish thematic committees to provide various types of care and support, as well as a fund to which contributions can be made to assist those affected.
  2. Continue to support the many victims and survivors of violence and their families.
  3. Compile into a consolidated report the documentation of human rights abuses collected by our membership which will be disseminated widely; and continue to record and share information on human rights violations.
  4. Continue to engage women from different sectors and sustain a unifying message.
  5. Organise peaceful marches to the country’s authorities to express both our pain and

We have only ONE Swaziland/ Eswatini, and it is ours to protect – the women of Swaziland/ Eswatini stand in one voice: