Botswana – Reginah Mojapoko

Date: September 19, 2018
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“I shall pass through this world once, for anything that I can do for humankind or anything that I can do for anything, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

Reginah’s most memorable experience with Gender Links was her presentation in 2013. She presented the project under the category climate change and sustainable   development. Winning at national and regional level was a dream come true. “It was not about winning the presentation but about the changes that you have made being appreciated. Seeing yourself driving a project which is recognised nationally and internationally as an outstanding project gives the driver the qualification of number one driver of change.” 

Reginah works as the Chief Housing Technician at the Housing Division (Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA). Her main duty is to help low income beneficiaries with allocations of state land at a very highly subsidised rate and to help them build the houses in the plots allocated with a zero interest rate loan. The loans cover the plots in the villages. For 22 years she has worked as a policy implementer. She has worked in five different municipalities in five different organisations implementing different government policies. This is where she learnt to help marginalised groups.  

“I learnt about Gender Links in 2011 when Rachael B. Jeremia transferred to Chobe District Council as Council Secretary. On her arrival she introduced and formed a Gender Committee by appointing us from different departments.” She addressed the committee immediately and that’s where she told them about their mandate and introduced Gender Links and the summit as a way of monitoring and evaluation. In the same year they took part in the cyber dialogue which was one of the activities performed during the 16 days against gender based violence. “We communicated with Gender Links together with other councils as to how to handle issues of gender based violence. The gender champion retrieved the Chobe District Gender Action Plan and helped us to evaluate what we have done according to the action plan. We compiled the actions and activities and she helped us to put it into the form of a presentation. In 2012 we presented as a Centre of Excellence at the National Summit at Gaborone where we proceeded to the Regional Summit in Gaborone. We also presented one of the leaders of Chobe being Kgosi Banika mainstreaming gender and equality where we took the runner up position.” 

The presentation of the Centre of Excellence was a moment of realisation for Reginah, as she says: “we were just documenting our day to day duties and activities because 95% of them are gender mainstreaming. Another moment was the presentation of Kgosi Banika’s project. Waoo! The ability of a leader to see the potential in another leader! The presentation of the project under the category Climate Change and Sustainable Development and the awards at both national and regional summits.” There was also a study trip to Mossel Bay, South Africa as an award for all winners of 2013 regional summit for Centres of Excellence. 

“My passion to help the marginalised group has grown so much. This created the ability to see the gap and come up with ideas and efforts to fill it through both the national and regional summits and the networking environment provided. Keabonye Ntsabane said indeed I am a driver of change concerning issues of gender mainstreaming.” Through working with Gender Links Reginah gained and improved many skills including interpersonal, time management, team work, flexibility, decision making, development, leadership, planning and organising, self-motivation, analysing, investigation, presentation, taking initiative as well as creativity and listening skills. She also learnt from identifying, preparing, presenting and winning with the Chobe District project at both National and Regional summits of 2013 under climate change and sustainable development.  

“I have learnt from the Chobe District Council Gender Committee because we are working as a team, in an extraordinary way with Rachael B. Jeremia as our gender champion. The woman is indeed an eye opener and supportive in all directions. Tshepang Senwelo, the Chobe District Council gender focal person, said that I am indeed a mentor to her, a role model and guide, but in terms of gender mainstreaming she is way above me. Her speech really uplifted me because it is indeed a privilege to be a role model to a gender champion like Tshepang Senwelo.”  

Reginah adds that these changes are also reflected in her family, the environment together with the people with whom she is living. “My children also feel the same as Tshepang. My brothers and sisters also see me as their head even though I am younger than them. I have told them that opportunities are always available it is only that most of the time they are disguised as challenges or obstacles.” This means in each and every challenge there is an opportunity. She says that all one has to do is to be positive and focused to identify it and grab it. This really worked because complaints are now minimized. 

The community now appreciates the issue of gender mainstreaming, according to Reginah. They now understand that they are no longer just issues of Chobe District Council as a Centre of Excellence, but they are a national and global thing. This is because they are involved and part and parcel of it. “We have discussed the issues of self-employment with certain groups including a group of women from the shebeen and sex workers.

We are fortunate because Chobe is growing fast in terms of development. We have the Kasane up-lifting, turning Kasane into a tourism hub and also the Kazungula way bridge. These are three powerful projects amongst others that we have tabled and let the come up with ideas on how one can employ oneself. They come up with amazing ideas and the strategies on how to undertake them. This shows their level of growth psychologically.” The skills developed include taking the initiative, creativity, self-motivation, planning and organising, responsibility, and teamwork and flexibility skills.  

“No law or policy has been changed, however, psychologically people have changed. They look at things in a positive way.” Reginah gives feedback to Gender Links because she is a focal person of the Chobe District Council gender committee. “As a focal person of a Centre of Excellence I give Gender Links feedback on our work in the council. It is through workshops and summits and other activities that I give Gender Links feedback through the review of the action plan and the presentations of other categories.” She says it is through this feedback that Gender Links has taken the advantage and trained both emerging and existing women entrepreneurs with skills on business plans.  

Reginah thinks that there is still a lack of knowledge and false concepts with regards to issues of gender and equality in this country. “Even though we are mainstreaming gender on a daily basis especially in the government sector, we do not know that we are implementing it. The country is busy empowering the marginalised groups, eradicating poverty and at the end of the day they are empowering women because they are the ones that are affected.

This has led to under reporting on the efforts and impact the country is having concerning empowering women because we think they are not relevant. This is addressed through workshops and gender summits where we interact with other countries and see and hear what they are reporting concerning their day to day objectives and activities. Now I know what to report, I do it neither by chance nor through gender policies.” 

The beneficiary’s future plans are to keep on mainstreaming gender and seeing the lives of individuals being changed.