In June 2019, the American Bar Association (ABA) under the Advancing Rights in Southern Africa (ARISA) Program undertook a stakeholder engagement mission to eSwatini as it sought to identify programme partners and their needs to ensure that its activities under the ARISA Programme were anchored on partner needs and lived realities in the program countries. During the in-country mission to Eswatini, several stakeholders highlighted legal and constitutional literacy as one of their major strategies in promoting women’s customary land rights. They however indicated that the absence of constitutional and legal resource manuals on women’s customary land rights often hampered their efforts in implementing their legal and constitutional literacy strategies. This prompted ARISA in collaboration with various partners in eSwatini to develop a legal and constitutional rights literacy manual with a focus on women and access to customary land. Read the Women’s Customary Land Rights In Eswatini: A Resource Manual here.
The development of the Manual started in August 2020 and was completed in June 2021. On 3 March 2022, the ABA under the ARISA Program and in collaboration with Eswatini partner organisations and women’s rights defenders launched the manual at Maguga Lodge, Piggs Peak, Eswatini. The launch was attended by various stakeholders from civil society and traditional authorities and was presided over by Ms. Thabsile Mavimbela, a former Senator and the current Chairperson of the Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Education Trust (WLSA) Eswatini Chapter.
Stakeholders welcomed the development and launch of the manual and hailed it as a critical resource for different actors in the country working to improve women’s customary land rights. These include the impacted women, legal practitioners, CSOs working to promote, protect and defend women’s customary land rights, traditional leaders adjudicating on these rights and other rights redress mechanisms in the country such as the courts and the National Human Rights Commission. Stakeholders highlighted the need for wide dissemination of the manual and continued engagement on how to utilise it through trainings and focused discussions. ARISA will continue to work with its partners in Eswatini to provide the required training on the legal and constitutional issues covered in the manual and how the stakeholders can utilise the manual to promote, protect, advance and defend women’s customary land rights in the country.