Caroline Lesang – Botswana

Caroline Lesang – Botswana

Date: January 20, 2014
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I am the Lobatse town council mayor; it’s a position that requires I develop the community. As mayor, I am responsible for assessing the efforts that people are making to develop, and from there look at ways they can be assisted where there is a need. Apart from being a mayor, I am also a business woman. I’ve been running my clothing factory for the past 22 years, and a bakery for the past four years. As part of my role, I give elderly people in the community tea and bread every month, as a token of appreciation that people give me.

I was introduced to Gender Links through BALA, at a time when they were commemorating 16 days of activism against violence towards women and children. This event saw me adopt the 365 days of anti-violence. As mayor, it is clear to me that it is my duty to mobilize people to fight against GBV, for the survival and strength of the community.

Being elected mayor is one of those moments I’ll never forgot. I know that being at the helm of the community will make me well placed to help people; I can see what is going on at the grassroots level. Every day that passes, I have the chance to change the lives of people through the use of the government alternative packages program, which has really gone a long way in assisting me achieve my plans of empowering the community. I also teach people about their rights, and inform them of different programs that are at their disposal. I do not want to see anyone suffer. As a Christian, I feel it is my duty to help the less privileged.

The best and worst experiences I’ve had at work are closely linked. During the 2005 election campaign, just as the election time was nearing, I fell and broke my arm. Can you believe I had a cast on for the whole month? From there, I learned to use my left hand, and since that accident, I have carried on using it most. Even though I went through the elections with my hand in a case, I managed to win the election, and went on to be head of the Council. This was a great time in my life!

Gender Links came in with education materials that helped me make progress. They became a guide that really showed me how people live with violence every day of their lives, and how councils are really needed. Particularly the social community development department, needs to address GBV problems. Now we are more able to handle GBV cases, and we are alerting the public that taking part in GBV is a crime and we will help those affected to get the justice they deserve. But at the same time, we try and guide those who are committing it to show them the wrong they are doing.

Gender Links has strengthened my public speaking skills; now I can speak out, and reach a lot of people at different levels through information sharing. Gaining this skill has been valuable to me; it has inspired me to ensure that I do good with the power I have. I firmly believe every women is important, because she can care for and develop other people without self-gain, she is sympathetic and always has a passion to make a difference. Helping a woman is like helping the whole nation.

Similarly, it is important to work with men for change. If men are shown the right way, they can use the influence they have to achieve better results in everything they do.

You know, the way I am living my life now, people tend to copy what I do. I love that the way I am living and the choices I am making are rubbing off on people around me. In the future, I want to move further with plans to overcome GBV, and take them to higher heights. One step will be having a focal person for GBV in the council, who will handle gender issues.



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