Gender Roles in Economics

There is a pronounced spatial segregation between areas of male and female employment thereby perpetuating a tension between family life and livelihood. Matsapha Industrial Estate has become home to most of Swaziland's manufacturing industries. Whether males sought employment in the gold-mining industry or in Swaziland's domestic industries, they had to migrate from their homesteads to work. However, because Swaziland is a small country, all areas of the country can be reached within 2 hours. This enables men to travel home more frequently.

Swazi women, who could not be employed in South Africa, were employed as seasonal laborers and food processors in the agricultural sector. A 1963 law prohibited women from all the B.L.S. countries crossing to South Africa for employment. Other areas of employment for Swazi women in the postcolonial period include domestic service, clerical work, and sales. In the mid-1980s, when economic sanctions were imposed on South Africa, more textile and clothing jobs were generated in the manufacturing sector. In general, women receive lower wages than men, although they are relatively well educated.

Swaziland has invested heavily in the development of tourism. Major ceremonies, such as the iNcwala and the Reed Dance, not only have national ritual prominence as icons of traditionalism, but they also attract tourists. Swaziland has a number of nature reserves and some five-star hotels with casinos. The latter are legacies of the apartheid era when white South Africans flocked there at weekends.

Swaziland's economy has continued to experience growth in the post-apartheid period. However, the birth rate has surpassed the rate of economic growth. As the HIV/AIDS epidemic has become entrenched in southern Africa, Swaziland has not been spared. At the end of 1999, it was estimated that 25.3% of the adult population was living with HIV/AIDS (US Census, 2000, p. 1). By 1998, one third of pregnant women and a quarter of 15-19-year-olds were HIV-positive. This has to be factored into any projections on the future of Swaziland's economy.

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