Welcome and Sanibonani!
It is incredible to be surrounded by so many smart, dedicated women who are changing the landscape of leadership in this country. Everyone in this room is fighting for the voice of women in Eswatini and demonstrating extraordinary courage and leadership in your communities every day. Tonight, we celebrate you.
March in the United States is Women’s History Month—a time to reflect on and honor the countless examples of strong women who preceded us in the fight for equality and women’s rights. In the United States, we often think of women like Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, and Maya Angelou – pioneers who followed their moral compasses to blaze a trail for women around the world.
And in Eswatini we have no shortage of women to celebrate. The people in this room are a testament to that. Everyone here tonight has sought to break down barriers to women’s political participation, counter negative gender stereotypes, and chip away at social norms that block women from participating across a huge range of sectors.
Tonight we are honored to celebrate an incredible group of women and as call your names, please join me up here:
- Martha Shongwe, the Chief Inspector for Secondary Education for the Ministry of Education and a life-long educator herself.
- Ms. Leslee Way, Mayor of Siteki Town Council, and local politician blazing a trail for women leaders as a member of the Town Council since 2012.
- Ms. Lungile Mzizi, Marketing Manager at MTN and Executive Chairperson for the USG Alumni Association who uses her platforms to press for collaboration and positive change.
- Ms. Mary Pais Da Silva, a human rights lawyer and a talented, tireless advocate for human rights and women’s rights.
- Ms. Bethusile Dlamini, Chairperson of a powerful grassroots organization, the Coalition of Informal Economy Associations, where she brings women together to collectively advocate for and build capacity in the sector.
- Ms. Duduzile Dlamini, the Deputy Commissioner of (CHRPA) the Commission on Human Rights and Public Accountability and an advocate for economically disadvantaged women, youth and people with disabilities.
- Ms. Makhosazana (Khosi) Dlamini, who is Executive Director of Baylor Clinic and who is contributing and leading clinical research, training and implementation of health services across many disease areas.
You represent the heroism of Swati women leaders. As more of you break into male-dominated business leadership circles, or become parliamentarians, or impact traditional leadership structures in Eswatini, future generations will benefit from your courage.
You are mentors to the next generation. We celebrate and admire women who lift up other women; we see them as changemakers. We know when girls see women in leadership roles, they are more likely to imagine themselves in these roles and pursue them.
To our distinguished Swati women leaders, we would like to present a gift, a small token of our appreciation for all you do. This book 200 Women is filled with the stories of extraordinary women who shape our world today and this book inspired the questions we sent you to answer for our social media posts. And in spirit of honoring other women leaders, and learning from them, we hope you find this book as inspirational as we did.
Today, as we honor and celebrate you, we also we humbly ask that you continue to use your platform to grow your impact. Continue to mentor, and share generously of your experiences. You can be the spark that ignites and inspires a more equitable society for future generations.