Swazi single mothers: do not ostracize us

“We believe that those who find themselves involuntarily having children should not be rejected and banned from their community. Swaziland Single Mothers’ Organization (SWASMO) is working hard to ensure that young single women are considered in Swaziland,” SWASMO said in their annual statement last week.

SWASMO is a membership-based Swazi NGO that amongst other things organizes projects and self-help groups that promote self-reliance, mutual support, mobilisation and education to try and improve the position and consciousness of single mothers by mobilising and educating poor single mothers in Swaziland. Read more of this post

Help us help ourselves, say Swaziland’s young single mothers

Women in Swaziland are heavily discriminated against, both by law and by custom. According to the former, women in effect have the status of minors and cannot get a bank loan without the consent of their husbands. According to the latter, women can be fined for wearing trousers by traditional authorities, nearly half of Swazi men believe it is okay to beat a woman, and two thirds of young women have experienced sexual violence of some sort.

But young single mothers are even worse off than the average women in Swaziland. Teenage mothers account for over a third of all pregnancies in Swaziland, but they receive little or no help from the government, their families or communities. On the contrary, when they are found to be pregnant they are often expelled from school and ostracised and stigmatised by their neighbours, communities and families. Read more of this post

Minister attends fundraising event for Swazi single mothers

Several prominent guests attended a fundraising event for the Swaziland Single Mothers’ Organisation (SWASMO) at the Greater Alpha Restaurant in Manzini, Swaziland, on May 28, including Swaziland’s Minister for Tourism, Macford Sibanze.

Macford Sibanze, who himself was raised by a single mother, and in whose constituency SWASMO primarily operates, was one of the key speakers at the event that raised money to continue and strengthen SWASMO’s self help groups for single mothers. SWASMO encourages and teaches self-reliance, mobilisation and education amongst Swaziland’s vulnerable and stigmatised single mothers. Read more of this post

New hope for stigmatised single mothers in Swaziland

“I really have big hope for SWASMO now,” says Beatrice Bitchong, Project Coordinator at the Swaziland Single Mothers Organization (SWASMO).

SWASMO, a volunteer organisation, is the only organisation to work with the many heavily stigmatised single mothers in Swaziland, a group that accounts for over a third of all pregnancies in Swaziland but who receive no government support. When their families find out that these women are pregnant, they are often expelled from school and ostracised and stigmatised by their neighbours, communities and families. Read more of this post

Swazi single mothers must come together

In a presentation to the attendees of the Swaziland Single Mothers Organisation’s (SWASMO) annual Christmas party, the coordinator of the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice,  Sebenzile Nxumalo, spoke about the many problems facing women in Swaziland. Sebenzile, herself a member of SWASMO, specifically blamed Swazi culture as being a prime cause of disparity and misery for Swazi women – a culture where woman are legally seen as minors. She also highlighted the importance of women coming together to tackle their own problems, and spoke encouragingly and appreciatively of the single mothers of SWASMO’s ability to do so. Read more of this post

SWASMO: Helping Swaziland’s most vulnerable women to help themselves

Swaziland is a country of great inequality where a minority is rich whilst two-thirds of the population survives on less than a dollar a day, half of them going hungry. As in most countries in the world, women bear the heaviest burdens of such inequality because, amongst other things, of their lower social and legal status and subsequent lack of access to education and finances. Women are generally heavily discriminated against in Swaziland, both legally and culturally, even though the country’s new constitution promises equal treatment for women and though Swaziland is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). One group of women that is particularly vulnerable, stigmatised and prone to despair and despondency is that of single mothers, including teenage mothers – although the two are often interconnected as one of the main causes of single motherhood is early pregnancies. Read more of this post

What key roles for Swazi women?

On September 28, King Mswati III praised women around the world for “continuing to play key roles in contributing to the socio-economic and political development of our nations”. Whereas this is certainly true, and even though Swaziland have ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2004 and the country’s new constitution promises equal treatment for men and women, the latter face an uphill struggle for equality in Mswati III’s Swaziland.

Men and women still do not have equal status in Swaziland, as Swazi women are legally subordinate to men in e.g. both civil and traditional marriages. And even though the new constitution might have theoretically done away with laws that meant that Swazi women could not get a bank loan or own property without the written consent of their husbands, and thereby promoting them from the status of minors, these laws have not yet been revoked. In practice the Swazi Supreme Court has even reversed a High Court ruling that allowed women to register property in their own name, banks still refuse to give bank loans to women without their husband’s written consent, and customary law forbids women to register property in their own names. Read more of this post