Wednesday 2021-04-14

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RURAL WOMEN’S TRAINING, LOW INTEREST LOANS ON THE RADAR

By KWANELE DHLADHLA | 2020-11-22

Government’s efforts to promote the participation of women in key economic activities, in line with the Strategic Roadmap 2019-2022, could soon be achieved with ease.

This will be courtesy of a partnership between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Eswatini government to empower women through providing access to finance, particularity for women in rural areas.

The project is divided into two phases, with phase one being three years of capacity building and phase two being a credit/loan facility with very low interest.

The microfinance programme, which aligns with the country’s vision to become a first world country, focuses on grassroots women in Eswatini. The first phase, which entails mainly capacity building was officially launched by Republic of China (Taiwan) Ambassador Jeremy Liang, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Manqoba Khumalo and Minister of Foreign Affairs Thuli Dladla at Mountain Inn yesterday.

initiative

Ambassador Liang enunciated that the exciting initiative would play a key role in better harnessing the economic potential of the beautiful kingdom’s women.

He pointed out that such a step was critical as sustainable development could only be achieved when all members of society can share in the fruits of prosperity.

He said one important aspect of the Republic of China (Taiwan) - Eswatini diplomatic ties was mutually beneficial collaboration for women empowerment.

Liang said near and dear to the hearts of President Tsai Ing-wen and Her Majesty the Indlovukazi was an outstanding platform for both countries to utilise their respective private, public and societal strengths.

The ambassador recounted that in April 2018 during President Tsai’s state visit to Eswatini, she spoke at length with the Indlovukazi at Ludzidzini Royal Residence about women’s empowerment.

He recalled that the leaders shared thoughts, respective experiences and vowed to advance viable programmes aimed at building better tomorrows.

“A year later, Foreign Minister Jaushieh Joseph Wu returned as President Tsai’s envoy for His Majesty King Mswati III’s 51st birthday celebrations. During the visit he joined Minister Dladla in signing the agreement implementing the project,” Liang recounted.

confidence

The ambassador said as a result, more women would soon have the confidence to join the ranks of the self-employed while enhancing business skills and financial literacy.

“Make no mistake. This win-win outcome will improve the livelihoods of rural women and contribute overwhelmingly to the economic health of Eswatini. It further represents another strong step forward in achieving a core objective of His Majesty King Mswati III’s National Development Strategy 2022,” said Liang.

Minister Dladla, a true testimony herself on how women empowerment helps propel economic growth, said she was particularly humbled by the political will, generosity and leadership of President Tsai who instantly recognised and identified with Her Majesty the Indlovukazi’s vision for a more equal, inclusive and prosperous society, and immediately set in motion the wheels to allow the inception of this project with the guidance and expertise from Taiwan.

“The project is important, not only because it recognises and seeks to actualise the vision of Her Majesty the Indlovukazi to empower women in rural and informal sectors without access to credit finance or collateral assets. It also signifies commonality of purpose and an alignment of values between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Eswatini,” Dladla noted.

  Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Manqoba Khumalo, made reference to the project’s slogan of ‘#khutsalamfati,’ which is a direct call to women to actively pursue activities that will benefit not just their households but the economy at large.  He said the theme in itself challenges women to push themselves to their full potential as it was  that they play a pivotal role in sustaining their families hence the maxim ‘Behind every successful man, there is a woman.’

“This slogan, therefore, augurs well with the project and may I applaud those who came up with such a wonderful theme. I am also informed that the project will target groups at grassroots level, transforming those that are not yet formalised into co-operative entities,” said Khumalo.

Khumalo mentioned that the co-operative business model has proven to be the best vehicle in enabling Emaswati to partake in the mainstream economy of the country.

Therefore, he said the project would go a long way in ensuring that there is an increased number of co-operatives that are sustainable, resilient and well managed, which cater for their members’ needs through meaningful economic activity that will contribute to national development.

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