Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Jo Cox project in Eswatini wraps up with a bang!

28 September 2021


This September, CLGF closed its pioneering project, Connecting the Dots, by hosting a number of Jo Cox Summits

For the past two years, CLGF, Gender Links and a host of partners from local and national government have been working hard to implement this project across four countries of Southern Africa: Eswatini, Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Connecting the Dots sets out to empower women, politically and economically; to help increase the number of women politicians in local governments across the region; and to support women entrepreneurs. Funded by the Jo Cox Foundation and UK Aid, the project honours the legacy of Jo Cox, a UK MP who was a passionate campaigner, activist, internationalist and humanitarian, but whose life was cut short. 

This Summit, one of four to take place, was held in Eswatini, and supported by project partners from the Eswatini Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. It comprised representatives from the Young Women in Local Government (YWLG) and the Women in Local Economic Development (WLED) networks, who reflected on their challenges, successes and the many lessons learnt throughout the duration of the project.

Stories of change

Although the COVID-19 pandemic posed many challenges to the project, for example, limitations in the physical interactions of the various networks and the negative impacts on the businesses of many women, much progress has been made in achieving the project outcomes. The members of the various networks shared personal Stories of Change on how the project has positively impacted their lives, careers and businesses. For instance, a local councillor explained how her leadership skills have developed, confidence increased and her understanding of the role of local government improved all due to the training sessions, networking and mentoring received as a result of the project.

Project success

The project succeeded in increasing women’s political representation in local government by 15%; increasing the number of young women councillors and achieving a 30% increase in the individual monthly income of a group women in business.


Ms Lucy Slack, CLGF Secretary General said: “I would like to congratulate the networks for all their hard work throughout the two years. In addition to the networking and mentoring provided, the project has ensured that 56 women in local government are trained in executive management; 52 senior managers have received leadership training; 69 women have been trained in business development and digitization; and 250 young people have been trained in local governance to assist in holding local government accountable for service delivery within their localities”. 

Further funding from Canada

Ms Slack also announced that the Canadian High Commission, through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, will be looking to support an extension of the Connecting the Dots Projects in Eswatini. The project may be at an end, but the work continues and she called on other donors to support the continued work of this nature to achieve better gender equity.

Ms Kubi Rama, Executive Director of Gender Links, gave an overview of the project implementation, explaining that a great deal of impact has been made in the lives of women in Eswatini. She also emphasised the need for the project to be institutionalised by local authorities.

Business expansion cash prizes

Sifiso Mkhonta, Thuli Shongwe, Lungile Dlamini, Nolwazi Dlamini and Sinotsangengemvelo Multipurpose Cooperative were awarded cash prizes of E50,000 for the development of top-rated business plans to fund for business expansion purposes.

Ms Colisile Tfwala, Eswatini CLGF Project Officer stated: “It has been a great pleasure working on this project, as achieving gender equity is a great passion of mine. Throughout the two years I have worked with incredible women in the various networks. I should like to extend my gratitude to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Eswatini Local Government Association and the British High Commission for their support in implementing the project.” 

CLGF is grateful to the Jo Cox Memorial Fund and UKAID for funding this work and hopes our donors are equally proud of these important outcomes. 

Stories of change

Further closing summits are being held in the other project countries and a series of Stories of Change will be published to provide more information about the individual impact of this project.



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