Kose Katsi-Likila Council COE

Kose Katsi-Likila Council COE

Date: July 1, 2015
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Kose Katsi, Councillor of Likila Council, is a Mosotho man that was raised with very strict traditional beliefs. Mainly, that women cannot make decisions for the family; women should abide by decisions taken by men.

Katsi’s encounter with Gender Links (GL) has been a life-changing experience because he now believes that women can contribute significantly to development efforts if given the opportunity.

Elected into council in 2010 during the Lesotho local government elections, he is serving his second term as a councillor.

In his first term, he became the council chairperson dedicated to promoting the participation of women in community projects. Despite his upbringing, he now respects women.

Katsi first met with GL during the Centre of Excellence (COE) workshop at the Likila Council. The workshop helped Katsi better understand gender. The workshops defined gender and various issues of concern. Moreover, Katsi learned how to involve women in community decisions and allow them to have a say in decision-making processes.

Katsi initially understood gender as an agenda for women who were very troublesome and who wanted to topple men. GL workshops taught Katsi that women should not be viewed as minors or as children. Women need to be given equal opportunities as men. They need access to land, and financing or loans from financial institutions. Women should have the right to inherit from their late husbands as well.

Katsi has, however, experienced some negative responses from other men. They said he is not man enough because he allows women to make decisions, and that is against their culture. Katsi became very strong by confronting these opinions and attitudes through the support of a few men. Katsi recruited a group of men to hold talks with small groups of men. Discussions help men to understand why it is important that women have equal opportunities and are allowed to take part in decision-making, as this can bring a positive change to the whole society.

A lot has changed because more people from Katsi’s village slowly begin to understand the importance of respecting women. The stereotypes are fading away. This is evidenced by the presence of women that are included in most development committees and that are also given high positions like those of chairpersons. It shows that men are trusting women, and women are showcasing their capabilities.

GL played a very important role in changing the mindset of the councillors and that change has been felt by the people within the communities. People, especially men, understand that they need to share ideas with their wives, they cannot make decisions alone. More women are now allowed to attend meetings that they did not attend before, like the village court. This would not have happened very easily had it not been for the Gender Links Local Governance Centre of Excellence (COE) process. This has proven to be very successful in helping their council to mainstream gender.

GL staff assists Katsi’s council through the COE modules and processes despite low levels of education. They have managed to help change the local government mind-sets to see things differently. They helped councillors to understand that roles of women in society can be diverse and should be valued. For men, this has been a change indeed. Me Malepota from GL has been very resourceful in this regard.

Katsi has learned a lot from the COE workshops surrounding gender concepts and about how to confront stereotypes concerning women. He also learned conflict management skills. Katsi has changed his overall attitude towards women, namely, he has left behind cultural beliefs that belittled women. He also learned about the internet and how it works. Katsi created an email address and is now able to communicate with other councillors who are part of the COE programme to continue to share their experiences of gender mainstreaming in their localities.

As a councillor, Katsi said he tries to be a good role model. He involves people in all community projects and allows women to actively participate. He learned that by working together, things can be easily achieved, so he always encourages people to work together.

Katsi’s plan is to continue working within communities, especially with men, until they understand what is meant by gender equality. This will primarily happen through public gatherings.

Katsi concluded by saying he would like to thank GL in a special way. He learned through experience that it is indeed true when Basotho say, “together we can make it.”

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