The participation of women in the HIV & AIDS policy process in Swaziland

Mlangeni, Bongiwe
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This research examines the participation of women in the HIV and AIDS policy process between 2003 and 2009. Participation has been an integral part of Swaziland‘s HIV and AIDS policy since the country adopted a multi-sectoral response to the pandemic in the late 1990s. As a concept and practice, participation is highly contested and political. The study sought to find out what type and quality of involvement Swaziland offers to women in its status as the last absolute monarchy in the African continent. The thesis relies on interviews and documentary research to establish its findings. It tracks the role women played at each stage of policy making, from agenda setting, policy formulation, policy adoption, policy implementation to policy assessment. The study also interrogates the shape of the participation space as well as power relations that define it. Women‘s advocacy and collaborative efforts are investigated to determine the type of strategies women used to increase their influence in the process. The study will argue that women‘s participation in the HIV and AIDS policy process or any other development process in Swaziland is in vain if their inferior legal status and other forms of discrimination are not fully addressed. While women can have increased access to political and policy making processes in government, their chances of bringing about change are severely undermined by the entrenchment of their subordination at every level of society. Instead of shying away from feminism, women should consider and adopt a vigorous, conscious, and unrelenting feminist agenda, which will challenge unfair gender laws and cultural norms.
HIV, AIDS, Swaziland, Policy making, Women