Devi Rungasamy – Mauritius

Devi Rungasamy – Mauritius

Date: May 29, 2012
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I was very excited to participate in the first Gender Links workshop held in my Council of Curepipe. While I had encountered the work of Gender Links in the past, I was very impressed that the Mayor at the time, Michael Sik Yuen made it a must for all of us to attend the full two day workshop, and joined in on a level playing field with the rest of us participating. I still remember how he committed himself fully to the fight against GBV in our community, and how he presented the council’s good practices at the first Local Governance Summit in Johannesburg.

I am a housewife, and have always been involved in social work. I’m the Preside of the Nightingale Women’s Association; the members meet at Camp Caval Community Centre three days a week. The group participates in all activities organized by the Council and the Ministry on Gender Equality. I also organize recreational and educational trips for the group. I contact other organizations to do capacity building for members, around HIV/AIDs, life skills like home budgeting and nutrition, and physical education including swimming classes, yoga, tai chi, and aerobics. The team has started drama sessions, and we have been showcasing the drama work on GBV during the 16 days of activism campaign. An important shift that has taken place in my association since encountering Gender Links is that now, we always invite male counterparts of participate in our activities. This is because gender affects all of us, not just women, and I understand the importance of everyone working together for change.

My involvement with Gender Links has been very strong since 2009. After the first Local Government workshop on GBV at that time, there were a range of follow up workshops, talks, and marches. We even started an initiative called “For a greener Curepipe” that is centered on the gender and climate justice nexus. It will be presented as a good practice in the upcoming Local Government Summit.

I have always been at the forefront of leading others, but in more traditional ways. After I encountered Gender Links and became more familiar with the issue of GBV, I began to see the world differently. For example, I saw how mothers were responsible for perpetuating stereotypes while bringing up children. Because the workshops were so interactive, my self confidence increased a lot; they have let me build both skills and a network. With the organization I’m already a part of, I have both the abilities and a platform to transmit all this knowledge to a larger group.

One real source of pride for me is that I can communicate online since the training I received from Gender Links. I plan to participate in future cyber dialogues. It has really expanded my horizons in many ways.

Another source of learning has been about the SADC Gender Protocol. While I had heard of SADC before, it was something vague in the media, and nothing more. Now, the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development is like a Bible to my work. It has allowed me to look at things with a more gendered perspective, and also gives me a tool to call for support from government. Ever since the low representation of women in government was pointed out to me, I was motivated to follow the training on Women in Politics; now, I’m ready to be a candidate in the next municipal elections.

In the future, I have many plans for making Curepipe a greener, and more equitable community. I plan to put in a request for a special composting bin to be placed at the community centre, where we can also host more talks for members of the association and people living in the surrounding region. I plan to start a project of collecting waste in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, and sell this to private contractors; this way, we can build sustainable financing to do more environmental work. The successes we have seen so far really motivate me in my work; whenever Gender Links gets involved in the community, you can count on me and the association being there to mobilize a crowd!


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