TSHOLOTSHO WOMEN EMBRACE ADVOCACY – EMTHONJENI WOMEN’S FORUM.
FORTY-SEVEN women from Tsholotsho Ward 3, popularly known as koMlevu were on 17-18 October trained on advocacy under the project ‘Women Advocating for Access to Documentation,’ being implemented by Emthonjeni Women’s Forum. The women embraced advocacy, saying that it would assist them in holding stakeholders accountable as they demand the right to identity.
Speaking during the training, women said they want to engage the registry offices as they felt they used a one size fit all method in handling cases.
“We want to advocate on access to documentation and engage the registry office not to use one formula for everyone. Our stories are different, some children were dumped on us by our daughters-in-laws, some are orphans, yet they demand the same requirements, that has to change,” said Ntombiyenkosi Ndhlovu. Women also moaned the treatment that they receive at the Registry offices, saying that they were not treated with respect and in some cases, they were just turned away without any explanation.
“We know we are rural women and we do not smell good, but the officers should respect us and provide the service to us because we are the reason they are at work. We want to engage them to treat us with respect and not give us an attitude or turn us back without any explanation, we are people too, we have rights,” said Princess Ncube, another community member.
The training comes at a time when the District is facing challenges of children living without birth certificates, with most of the children being orphans and being born in South Africa.
At Mlevu Primary School, three quarters of the children do not have birth certificates, and this is the challenge in most schools in the district.
Speaking at a stakeholder’s sensitization meeting held recently in Tsholotsho, a representative from the Ministry of Education, Nelson Ndlovu said that the challenge of lack of documentation is affecting the whole of Tsholotsho.
‘As the Ministry of Education, our appeal to you is that may this project be conducted in the whole district because when it comes to birth certificates the whole district is affected. Our school children fail to continue academically because of lack of birth certificates. We understand that due to lack of resources you may be concentrating in ward 3 but my appeal is that try to cover the whole district so that everyone benefits, and this challenge is dealt with for ever,’ he said.
The two-day training saw women coming in from the seven villages in the ward, namely Siyazama, Thuthukani, Vulindlela, Phakamani, Nyelesi, Thokozani and Vukuzenzele. The women received training on advocacy training skills, advocacy steps, lobbying, community mobilisation and human rights.
Emthonjeni Women’s Forum will soon organise a social accountability forum in which community members and stakeholders will interface and try to solve the documentation challenge.