…USA Ambassador calls for passing of Sexual Offences, Domestic Violence Bill
US Ambassador Lisa Peterson has urged the newly formed TUCOSWA Women Committee to advocate for the enactment of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill (SODV) which she said has languished in Parliament for almost a decade.
Peterson said this during her closing remarks at the TUCOSWA Women Conference held at Caritas Centre yesterday. The Ambassador said the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill often referred to as the SODV Bill has languished in the halls of Parliament for nearly a decade.
Peterson said some people see the ongoing debate around the SODV Bill as a matter for women’s groups and social organisations, but it is about much more than that. Peterson said in fact, the SODV Bill is sweeping in its reach as it affects men, women and children.
She said it touches on social, family, and economic issues. Peterson added that it speaks to equality, to justice, and to overreaching human rights.
The Ambassador said the SODV Bill is a critical piece of legislation that must be enacted in order to build a more inclusive Swaziland. Peterson informed the throngs of women who had gathered at Caritas Centre that a strong house cannot be built without a strong and balanced foundation. She said similarly, a strong economy cannot be built solely on the work of men. Peterson said until Swaziland recognises that its daughters and mothers deserve the same protections and opportunities as its sons and fathers, the country will continue to limit its own political and economic development.
Speaking about the readmission of Swaziland into AGOA Peterson said the reinstatement of AGOA benefits was born from the commitment and dedication of the workers, managers and leaders of organisations.
She said AGOA did not return by accident but it returned because of targeted and tireless advocacy by individuals and organisations.
Peterson further pointed out that with the return of AGOA and possible growth in the manufacturing sector, everyone needs to be vigilant about ensuring that the new jobs being created come with fair labour conditions and safe work places. Peterson shared the story of three women in American history who played a huge role in the recognition of women’s right in America and urged women of TUCOSWA that they do not only have a right but they also have a duty as leaders to fight for policies that are important to their organisations’ members. Peterson further submitted to TUCOSWA that the SODV Bill is a critical issue that deserves serious attention. “all of you would be welcome allies in the effort to pass the SODV Bill. Your voices could be the last bit of pressure that is needed to bring the law into effect and usher in a brighter future for Swaziland” Peterson urged the TUCOSWA Women Committee. Peterson further pleaded with the committee to continue advocating for a future where all Swaziland’s women are safe in their workplace, on the street, and in their homes.
LEADERS: TUCOSWA Women's Committee leaders Vice Chairperson Bawinile Ndlovu and Chairperson Bongiwe Mango being introduced to members.
FOLLOWING: US Ambassador Lisa Peterson watching as elections officers count the votes.
DELIVERING: TUCOSWA Secretary General Mduduzi Gina delivering his speech.