Eswatini: women still face obstacles to enjoy their rights

Dialogue between Swazi Women Human Rights Defenders and CEDAW Committee Members highlights the obstacles faced by local women in the enjoyment of their human rights.

 On 14 December 2020, the ICJ and the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) facilitated a fruitful dialogue between Swazi Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) and members of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the CEDAW Committee) on the key human rights concerns facing Swazi women and possible advocacy strategies to address them.

The CEDAW Committee monitors State parties’ compliance with and implementation of their human rights obligations under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the Convention), by which Eswatini is bound.

In light of the Eswatini government’s failure to submit a report to the CEDAW Committee, as required under the Convention, more than 20 Swazi WHRDs’ organizations had a preparatory meeting on 8 December to discuss and prioritize the human rights concerns they wished to bring to the CEDAW Committee members’ attention.

They hoped that, by coming together and agreeing on these issues, they may raise awareness and put pressure on the Eswatini government to comply with its obligations under the Convention, including by promptly submitting the country’s overdue report.

In the wake of this preparatory meeting, on 14 December Swazi WHRDs briefed the CEDAW Committee members about the most critical human rights violations faced by women in Eswatini. This meeting was broadcasted live on Facebook.

The dialogue focused on the Eswatini authorities’ failure to implement their human rights obligations under the Convention, including the previous Concluding Observations of the CEDAW Committee.

High rates of teenage pregnancy, women’s inadequate access to education, healthcare and adequate housing, and ways in which customary and religious laws are used to justify discrimination against them were among the key human rights concerns affecting women discussed during the dialogue.

Watch the animation on CEDAW

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