Black River Institutional Report

Date: August 23, 2018
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Making voices heard can change mind-set

Black River has always been a gender sensitive Council with the Acting Chief Executive a woman and the first woman to be holding this responsibility. It was also the first District Council to have more women Councillors.

Black River was among the first Council to become COE and has since got the Action Plan approved and has approved a budget called “Gender Links”. The file of Gender Links is well kept with all activities done with them.They keep minutes of community meetings and all other activities. How great was my surprise when I saw the picture of my sister in one of their workshops.  I was then told that she forms part of the “Force Vive” that helps vulnerable children in a region called “La Valette” and as such attended a Gender Links workshop facilitated by former Local Government Facilitator, Mary Coopan.

During 2014 verification the score has increased a bit and there is now better collaborations with the police. The District has put together a neighbourhood watch and there seem now to have much interaction with the police. The Council is making use of the National Empowerment Foundation and they are now working in collaboration with them so that people living under the poverty level are given houses and the statistics show that most of the requests for houses come from women.

The councillors are very active with the work of Gender Links and they are very committed to get to understand more about various gender issues and they connect very well with the Action Plan. Staff in managerial position is gender balanced and some of them are breaking stereotypes in non-stereotypical, e.g. safety and Health, Information Technology and Financial Controller as well as Planning.

The Council has two female football teams. “Some of the players are married women and come to the football pitch with their babies.”   the Ag. Chief Executive told Gender Links. The Council has a variety of facilities for sports for women. Women sometimes are in competition with men on petanque (throwing of balls). There are regular tournament of female boxing and female kick boxing. The Council helped a sportswoman to participate in martial art at international level in USA and she got financial help.The football pitch is available for both women and men but Council still has to  encourage more women to use the gymnasium.

The staff of the District Council work on a voluntary basis to help a poor region of the District called “Valetta”. The District Council singled out the theme of poverty as its main priority and chose a model for the Village of Valetta and launched a few programmes for its inhabitants. The lives of the community have changed with projects put in place by the Council. The “La Valette” project is this unique project which takes a holistic approach. The Council does sensitisation and advocacy campaigns on the economic empowerment of women.

There is a twinning of Black River with Anse Bioleau in Seychelles. Each two primary schools are selected in both countries and are accompanied by one parent, one teacher and a representative of Black River for a study tour.  Over and above the Council works with schools to encourage them to dot crafts from waste materials. The District Council of Black River is among the very few types of Council where staff work on a voluntary basis to help combat poverty and empower women in the region. They work in close collaboration with NGOs of the region.

Since Gender Links started with that locality in 2008, Black River has organised 16 days activism campaign every year and has done plays on GBV inviting the community to attend. The Council also participated in the cyber dialogues regularly and last year they participated in the radio programmes on GBV as well. There is a special budget for Gender Links for the 16 days campaign. The Council also has a child watch committee and Family Day is celebrated as well as Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day is celebrated yearly.

This locality is at the avant-garde as far as gender is concerned. It is a role model for other localities of Mauritius. Gender Champions of this locality come from the top and over and above various projects and programmes have been launched. Participants at the verification said that there should be a better collaboration with village halls and encourage them to open after office hours so that the community can benefit even better.

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