Mauritius: Government support Gender Links in training women in politics

Mauritius: Government support Gender Links in training women in politics

Date: March 9, 2012
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The Gender Links Francophone Director Loga Virahsawmy this month embarked on a series of workshops on “Media Literacy and Leadership Skills for Women in Politics” the same time the office started to roll out their care work and climate change workshops in localities.

Local government facilitator Mary Coopan facilitated the care work and climate change workshops with the collaboration of high officials from the Ministry of Health for Care Work and the Ministry of Environment for Climate Change.

The series of meetings received support from the highest office in the land – the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Dr Navin Ramgoolam. He gave permission to his Senior Advisor, Kritee Ram and Advisor on gender issues Rani Juggernauth, to co-facilitate with Virahsawmy. Both Advisors stayed during the two days attended by 42 women and men. Kritee is not only an expert in leadership but also knew all the 10 villages that were represented in the workshop.

The Senior Advisor to the Minister of Health, Sheela Seenarain, who also stayed during the two days helped with the catering and shared her experience as the first woman President of the Village Council of Microelement St. Andre.

In their keynote addresses Minister of Sports, Hon. Devanand Rittoo, and Minister of Agriculture Hon Satish Faugoo commended Gender Links for the work they are doing but questioned why there were so few women councillors.

They went on to explain that long time ago women were not allowed to vote let alone stand as candidates. “Women are now emancipated. They are 52% of the population; girls do better than boys in the educational field. If more women enter into politics and become a critical mass they will eventually breakthe glass ceiling. It is important that they get training. The decision of the Prime Minister to have a law regarding at least one third women on all party lists or group lists for local government elections is commendable. Women now have their chance and must know how to get the access so that they can participate in politics for the benefit of the community.”

The Minister of Labour Hon. Shakeel Mohamed opened the workshop that took place in Port Louis, which involved five wards.

He said that the challenge is even bigger for Muslim women to stand as candidates. “But now that the door is opened with the new Local Government Act, Muslim Women will be able to stand as candidates.”

The Mayor of the Municipal Council spoke to participants about the upcoming Mauritius Gender Justice and Local Government Summit. Two councillors explained to the attendees how councils work and the different Commissions.

The last workshop of this series held in Case Noyale was a completely different experience. Nearly half of the participants could not read and write. They did not know about the SADC Protocol or the other laws that concern women in Mauritius but by the end of the workshop, they had a fair bit of understanding.

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