Empowering societies

Date: June 11, 2016
  • SHARE:

Name of article: Empowering  societies

Name of publication:  BAM Media

Country: Lesotho

Theme: Women

Quotable quotes

Provide one quote from your story that demonstrates what has changed in your life/ the life of the leader since you/the leader became gender aware.

I am a leader of servitude towards empowered societies.

Most memorable experience in your work as a leader

Please share a short story that may be inspirational; emotional or significant in other ways that demonstrates the essence of your/the leaders work. In what way do you/or does the leader qualify to be a Driver of Change? Please make this clear at the outset of the piece.

 During my tenure as the Managing Director of BAM Media, meeting the dateline of delivery of the publications was one key priority for us, so as not to jeopardize the shelve dates. Of our three routine publications, the women’s magazine was not meeting the timelines. I resorted to the senior personnel to find out why, and each time there was an excuse here, or an excuse there, but which sort of “made sense”. The problems were always different yet culminating to the same result – late delivery. I eventually made a decision to join the team hands-on, for the entire month of the publication production to see where the problem was, and how we could go about solving it. This forced me to get back into the team as one of them; getting to the office when they did, going through each article with them, assessing how they carried their designs, how they related with their sources, and even how they internally communicated as they were working on a new issue. I can vividly remember as we neared the submission dateline when we literally spent 2-3 days on end at the office almost 22 hours per day, only going home to shower and change in the morning! This teamwork gave me a completely new understanding of their challenges and drawback, which I was energized to address – now that I knew exactly where the problem was.

I recommended some changes on the work plan and voila, delivery was on track! A few weeks down the line the editor thanked me for the “transformation”, which made her team look forward to the forthcoming issues now that they beat the dateline challenge. As a leader, I allowed myself to experience what my team was facing. That is how my leadership turned into servitude.

Give a short history of the leader

Please give information on your/the leaders background, where he/she/you started, how you got involved in gender work. Please capture any light bulb moments, through anecdotes and examples.

I have always had a passion to prove that women can make it, fueled by our patriarchal society. My undergraduate degree was in Computer Science & Physics in a class of 26 where only 3 of us were female. Upon graduating I pursued my career in ICTs as they were taken to be male subjects in Lesotho. I got hired in a Young Professionals’ Programme in UNESCO (Paris) as the only girl from Lesotho in 2000. While still there a passion to start our own business (es) with my sister siblings burnt even further and in 2005 I was an “online” director but 3 years later I voluntarily resigned from my diplomatic post to Lesotho to run our women-owned IT conglomerate.

We then started an Informative newspaper in yet a male dominated industry and point was still to prove that if men can do it, so can women! We used the publication to cite the stories and engage more with the voice of women, which had not happened much before. Later on we introduced a distinctly women’s Finite magazine to focus more on the women stories, successes and challenges towards inspiring other women (and men) on the potential of women. We subsequently introduced the Women Appreciation Awards where Basotho women worldwide are identified and recognized in a ceremony for their impact on society – in August annually since 2012. In 2016 men are now awarded for inclusive participation. The magazine hosts activities on ‘Know Your

Rights Know Your Obligations’ a platform that empowers women. In 2015 we pioneered a collaboration of leaders; Basotho Media Women to drive an open dialogue by women media decision makers in Lesotho. I am a transformation agent as well, with emphasis on women empowerment with my twin sister as Emotional Intelligence Practitioners.


What is his/her/your personal mission statement?

I have a purpose on this earth. I drive positive transformation for me and around me. My intrinsic motivation drives my own thoughts, beliefs and actions and my life is my own responsibility. I am where I am as a result of my own thinking and actions. I am inspired by change in my life; it gives me an opportunity to become a better person every day. Everything is possible with the right mindset and absolute faith in the opportunity brought about by possibility. My intention is to leave a legacy on this earth that can never be erased.

Key activities

Describe your work : include any negative experiences

My work is largely centered on engaging with other people to either plan to or actually create enriching experiences for them, particularly through helping them adjust their mindset for positive transformation. Therefore I initiate a lot of communication between me and my existing or potential relations. I also write content for training, publication in books, magazines, newspapers, websites and social media. Sometimes unfavorable feedback is received on these deliveries, causing me to wonder if I’m doing good enough, or if I should be doing it in the first place.

However the positive feedback that I get from the majority that interact with my work keeps me motivated to do more! I am also involved in the actual provision of training under the brand of Twin-Talk Lesotho with my twin sister, colleague and partner, to help supplement the knowledge of my trainees and mentees. Our foundation also aims as empowering societies for them to advance their goals. This sometimes essentially leads to expectations that can be higher than what I deliver and forces me to bring the uncomfortable truth of the bar of commitment and action to my audiences. Some of them then give up. However for the most part my work is extremely fulfilling as I get to ignite passion to my clients, and they get amazed by the results they achieve, just because I gave them a small push in the right direction.

I also model the strategy of our organization (BAM Group) through policy formulation, and also source opportunities to expand the organization nationally and internationally. This is centered around a lot of research as well as engaging with different people both directly through meetings and networking sessions, as well as indirectly through exchange of content and sourcing ideas as well as advice from different people and networks.


Key challenges

Describe challenges faced in pushing for gender equality in the media house.

The team was largely composed of males in the leadership as the editor was male, therefore it was seemingly difficult to convince them of the importance of addressing gender related issues.

The entire team sort of felt that male news “sold” better than female related articles, and more so portraying female presence in the prominent spaces of the paper was a constant issue of concern. We had to sit the team down consistently, issue after issue, pointing out the specific areas of concern, which we needed them to change. The areas of focus were the front page, leading stories and how the female voice was projected with the articles. It was not an easy task and there were lots and lots of discussions around the mediocrity of women’s position in society, and how we were risking not having good readership because of “boring” content. We were firm on our position to show the importance of women and how showing their pictures in areas of development and leadership influence the gender agenda. It is still a challenge as women are still shown from a point of victimization versus them being in leadership. They still feel that women stories sell better if they show the adversities of women. While it is true that women are still facing hardships, it does not help them much if they are shown constantly from a point of weakness versus strength. As BAM Media, we are slowly but surely winning the battle because our team is now conscious of portraying a female presence in the paper, and our aim is to have 50/50 appearance. The other challenge though still remains with the female sources, which are not so forthcoming as opposed to their male counterparts. Women still need the “freedom” to talk. We are aiming at that.

Change at the individual level

Please state how championing gender has changed your life? Why has it changed? What other factors/people have been responsible for this change?

I am much more watchful of the display of women as “objects” versus intellectuals, leadership strategies in various levels and societies, as well as organization frameworks. I am more observant on the use and portrayal of the female voice to remove the stereotype of male dominance. If societies don’t change their minority view on women, they even unconsciously act so, which calls for dialogues around change actions. This has influenced me to head BAM Group Foundation, focusing on women and youth empowerment. I use it to address roles played by influential actions and people in gender mainstreaming.

Change at institutional

Please provide evidence and at least one quote from other people to support your statements on change at personal level.

Please ensure that you provide name, surname, organisation and designation if applicable

BAM Group had three women as shareholders and also as managing directors. We arrived at a resolution that the organization was possibly being led mostly with a female mentality and a balance was needed. Therefore in 2014 following the strategic plan, three males were employed in senior positions in the organization to balance the management structure in

terms of gender. This however was not done purely to have males in senior positions, but also on the merit of the candidates who applied or were seen capable to take such leadership positions. The organization is now very sensitive when hiring is done to ensure that there is a good balance between male and female candidates for positions that are to be filled. This year of 2016 the Wo-Men appreciation awards event has introduced the much needed male inclusive twist towards supporting women in areas that are not only productive, but economic as well. As the initiative praises women who have contributed in uplifting the country and nation at large, with effect from its 5th anniversary (2016) it is equally recognizing the males who are making it possible for women to be recognized for their efforts and potential.

Evidence of change at institutional level

Please provide testimonial evidence Please give examples and quote others. Ensure that you provide name, surname, organisation and designation if applicable.

The gender focal person has been assigned to set a meeting with you as soon as she arrives from Zimbabwe or her alternate will be Violet Maraisane (maraisane@unfpa.org). Hence I was saying you should give me heads up once that has been arranged so that I can brief you on our areas of interest. Our Rep is overwhelmed by your enthusiasm. She couldn’t stop talking. We have a big event coming of 16 days activism hence the gender person role to coordinate with you. I also heard we are going to support and contribute to FINITE Magazine and informative newspaper.

Capacity building

Please give an outline of any activity or training you undertook to build the capacity of others.

BAM Media is a direct resource medium for BAM Group Foundation through publishing its activities post the sessions that it holds in a partnership with the U.S. Embassy in its YALI network of Lesotho. These sessions are delivered under my direct leadership. At times I do take the stage to provide expert delivery for participants, and there have been a number of them since November 2015. To mention but a few, we have delivered sessions on “Addressing corruption in the workplace”, “Women in politics”, “Rising up the employment ladder” and “Mentorship for success”. With my sister and partner we continue to mentor young girls in a program that started in June 2015, in various cohorts. In this mentorship we provide one-on-one sessions, group sessions as well as help build them in their endeavor to be independent women leaders in the future. Last week we held a business planning session for them, where we were training them on the requirements of building their own plans for their own businesses. Apart from this we provide daily motivation through our social media pages to capacitate others, and have also written a book to unleash the inner potential.

Lessons learned and shared

What lessons have been learned in the process?

The mentorship program is the most rewarding of all the capacity roles I am involved in. Not only does one get to be able to help transform someone into an energetic, visionary being, but I also learn more about the lives’ situations of others. The transformation of an individual does not happen overnight, but it is a possible process. Our societies have “transformed” our thinking into being people that are driven by the cultural norms instead of the world outlook that was meant to be. This thinking an only be changed with constant information dissemination that is aimed at informing us of our situations, our rights and what to do in order to get out of the cages of our societies. This is not an easy task but it is possible and needs collective participation for its realization.

Next Steps

What are your future plans? Concluding thoughts.

I intend to incorporate Gender mainstreaming more into my daily work and daily life. As I work largely in the media fraternity, international organizations, NGOs and CSOs, I intend to make it my continued responsibility to give women a better understanding of their capabilities, opportunities and areas for improvement. This shall not only be limited to women but will be extended to men as well since it is through their comprehension of gender balance that gender balance can become a reality. I also intend to be more involved at policy planning through contributing the thoughts and aspirations of those who operate in domain of empowerment for the marginalized. Last but not least I intend to use my influence and personal networks to encourage political, community and society leaders to be more participative in the women empowerment agenda.

Please attach supporting evidence here, such as media articles or programmes, in- house newsletters, policies, and testimonial evidence (letters, E Mails), that attest to the extent to which you have been promoting gender equality in your work

BAM Group Gender Policy.

Sexual Harrasment – Code of Good Practices.

2016 FWAA – General Information.

Finite July-August 2016.

LEC Recommendation.

Comment on Empowering societies

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *