Jenilaine Moonean – Mauritius

Jenilaine Moonean – Mauritius

Date: June 30, 2015
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Jenilaine Moonean is a journalist at Le Defi Media Group. She previously won an award at the Mauritius SADC Gender Protocol@Work in 2013, which guaranteed her place to present her best practice at the regional summit in the same year. This year she entered again into the media print category and managed to scoop a runner-up award.

“I was very excited with the whole experience. Sometimes it is stressful to prepare for presentations, but I really loved the interaction and exchanges we had with other SADC journalists, and meeting with women from other countries. Even up to today I am still in contact with them, especially the journalists from the DRC,” says Moonean.

“Before, like many journalists I was more of an all-rounder in my reporting. I specialised in investigative journalism, and after one year I started specialising in magazine journalism. When I met GL, I just started by covering Gender Links conferences and other events they were doing. That is when I found that I was really interested in the struggles of women in Mauritius, because we have problems with GBV and women’s empowerment. Although things are progressing, this struggle has always appealed to me. Since then, I have always chosen to write on subjects concerning gender issues and women. Though gender concerns both men and women, women are facing most of the challenges in my country.”

“The most memorable experience I have had with GL is meeting with women who are survivors of violence. These women have been beaten and harassed by their husbands but always suffered in silence. The greatest thing is seeing these women coming forward and denouncing their husbands’ activities. They were not aware of the progress that has been made on women’s rights and even about organisations that exist to help women in their situations, but through Gender Links they have become aware and finally made the decisions to put their lives into their own hands and say no to violence. Now they are beginning their own businesses and are prospering.”

With the help of the institution that has signed a Memorandum of Understanding and developed a gender policy, Moonean and other journalists at Le Defi strive to put gender in the forefront of their work. They bring out the gender aspects of every story, and try to balance their sources. At least twice a month, Moonean writes in-depth articles on gender, often including GBV and the stereotypes and stigma surrounding it.

“The greatest thing I have experienced is coming out with strength from this whole process. Now I get many women that come to see me at my office for all kinds of things. For example, when we had floods last year in Mauritius there was a woman who was stuck inside her house with her child. Instead of calling the police she called me at the office to do something. That’s when I alerted the fire brigade to take action. This is evidence that people have trust in me and believe in what I write.” Other women who have seen her write about GBV cases have come out wanting to voice out the oppression they themselves have been facing for a long time to set an example to women who are dealing with the same problems.

“Gender Links has changed my point of view, and also changed the way people see me. When I write on gender issues, people see me differently and it builds trust. I think it would not have been possible without Gender Links’ effort. GL also helped me during the follow up processes. When women come to see me with different problems, I write an article, but it does not stop there. I try to see with GL and other NGOs how we can help these women. After that I come with other articles to show what has changed after the follow up processes.”

Loga has been very influential and helpful in all of Moonean’s stories. She notes that even if articles that she was writing did not mainly concern Gender Links, she was always ready to collaborate.

“As a woman, I feel the status of women in Mauritius is raised, and I feel good about it. Today you feel proud of being a woman in Mauritius even though we have not reached 100%. We are, however, promoting women in all spheres and professions. With GL I have gained more confidence. In my line of work I had the opportunity of working with a team of men, maybe something I would not have done previously. At that time men did not want to receive orders from a woman, especially a younger woman. I had a lot of things going on in the office, and although people would not say it right to my face, be having been part of GL’s workshops I learnt to take the things I was hearing about me positively and try to turn it into positive energy instead of criticising people. I approached everyone to try to understand the problem.”

Besides GL, Moonean has interacted with organisations like CEDEM mainly with Rita Venkatasamy. The organisation works with abused children, especially girls who have been raped in the family circle. The organisation tries to empower the young girls through adequate education, so that they grow up and out if the situation they were living in. She notes that Venkatasamy contributes positively to the different outlook she now possesses.

The changes she is both experiencing and influencing can also be felt in her family circle.
Moonean’s mother, like many other women from her generation, come from an era where men did everything and women stayed at home. With the effect of socialisation she still had the mentality of what women’s traditional roles would be in the household. However, through GL, Moonean has helped her mother make a mind shift and get her interested in the progress that women are making in the country, and see how they are contributing to the economy and their family’s livelihood. “When I attend GL workshops I share, especially with my mother. She was a house wife, but with the passing of my father she has started her own business. Through the contacts I have made with GL I lined her up with some people who helped her start her business which in a way helped her to overcome her loss. “

“I have faced challenges that include criticism on why a woman could work on the subjects I have. I have been told to leave certain subjects to men.” However, since then, things have changed. Moonean’s fighting spirit has helped her move away from this space and turned this criticism to something she could build on. There is more work to be done by the press; given the number of rape and murder cases that happen in Mauritius. Educating only women and empowering them will not change anybody’s situation. Moonean believes it is time to start work more with men, and that it is critical to put forward men’s voices to change the situation. We should educate our population on challenging stereotypes.




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