Jane Kondowe – Zambia

Date: August 17, 2015
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Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward: C.S Lewis

My first encounter with Gender Links was during the collection of “I” stories in 2012. I have also met Gender Links (GL) at other meetings, such as the Zambia National Gender Summit 2014 and 2015 and during the entrepreneurship training conducted by GL.

I am a woman who experienced gender based violence (GBV) for more than 10 years because I could not give my then husband a child. As a result, he resorted to treating me like an animal. He would treat me in whichever way he felt suited him. Once I attempted suicide by taking 40 asthmatic tablets just to end my life. My husband got very scared and rushed me to the hospital. Thank God, I survived. The suicide attempt made my parents decide that I should leave the abusive marriage as they did not want to lose me. I later filed for divorce. It is because of the way I was treated that I realised that economic independence coupled with the education of women are the only solutions to GBV. I have also derived lessons from being overly dependent on a man. I have learnt that I do not have to sit back and feel sorry for myself but try to engage in things that will improve my life.

I took up farming and produced a very good yield which I later sold. With the money that I got from my sales, I bought materials and started up a village pre-school because I realised that the place where I was staying had no pre-school. After seeing that my life had improved greatly, I started thinking of women out there who could be suffering gender based violence. I then started looking for solutions as to how I could be a voice for such voiceless women by engaging in the drama group organised by World Vision Zambia where we sensitise the community against GBV thereby creating awareness amongst both women and men. Through this drama group we have reached out to many people. We have performed at various events such as 16 days of activism, at work places and the market place because it is at the market where the majority of women are found. We also encourage women in the community to report abusive husbands to the relevant authorities. However, the challenge has been that most women do not report their husbands because culture does not allow them to do so.

My most memorable experience with Gender Links occurred when I was chosen to represent my council as a survivor of GBV at the 2014 and 2015 National Summits. It was a life time learning opportunity. Many thanks to Gender Links because they helped me to acquire the knowledge that I have been longing to have for a long time.

Rosemary Kakompe, the Zambia entrepreneurship consultant, is largely responsible for the change in me as she has taken me through training on gender and has also helped me develop an interest in gender issues and make a difference in my world. For instance, during the phase one training I realised I was unique and wonderfully made in the image of God, because I was taught how to build my self-esteem/confidence and assurance that I can start over in life and be someone whom people would admire. During phase two, I got to know how I would improve my business. As of now, I am able to stand on my own economically. I encourage/teach women who experience GBV that they can overcome their situations if only they believed in themselves.

I would like to thank Gender Links for the work they are doing which has changed my life and made me extend the change to other people suffering GBV. Thank you very much for giving me an opportunity to change other people’s lives through what I learned during the GL training and for building confidence in me.


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