Laura Samoisy – Mauritius

Laura Samoisy – Mauritius

Date: June 30, 2015
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“Before, I was an abused woman who suffered abuse from my partner in silence. But since I met the NGO Gender Links, I took control of my life. Today, I became financially independent. I went from being an abused woman to a woman entrepreneur. I encourage all women who suffer in silence to reach out and gain the means to get out of their hell and become financially independent,” explained a women to me, who I was interviewing as part of the preparations for the Gender Links summit in Mauritius. This woman’s courage moved me. I admired the courage it took for her to tell her story, and even agree to have her photo published for the sole purpose of encouraging other women to come forward and talk about GBV. This demonstrates how Gender Links is touching so many peoples lives.

The disparity between men and women always struck me as unfair. However, I didn’t understand the real issues behind patriarchy and inequality; I didn’t think it was my problem. During the first workshop I attended by Gender Links, however, I started to understand these issues. My perception before meeting GL was that the cause would only be taken forward by extreme feminists. I realized that this wasn’t the case, and that I had many other misunderstandings about the concept of gender.

It took a second workshop, a full year later, that last a week, for me to really feel that Gender Links has changed my life. There are so many ways that I perpetuated gender inequality without realizing it. Now, my perception has changed. For example, in the past, I might have criticized a girl for wearing clothes I found indecent, even telling people “She did not look in a mirror. What she is wearing encourages rape.” With hindsight, I realize the way I adopted gender biased cultural practices in my own life, and I am doing what I can to change.

At the end of the workshop I attended in 2013, each participant was asked to make a commitment to reduce gender based violence in their countries. I must say, this really changed my life. Professionally, I have shifted my orientation to take a gender sensitive approach to addressing GBV. I no longer tolerate sexist attitudes, even those of my male colleagues towards women in our organization. What was normal a year ago, I no longer find normal today.

Things have even changed in my personal life. I’ve lived with my partner for two years. In the past, we didn’t share household chores, because he was being left too exhausted by his job. However, I also work. By becoming more cognizant of gender, I have managed to shift the dynamics in our household, without offending him. Now we share chores equally. He even reminds me of my responsibilities, when I sometimes neglect them. Now he is even teaching his younger brothers how to respect women, and help with household chores.

Not long ago, my partner and I were visiting his brother and his wife, who was seven months pregnant at the time. We were just passing by to say hello, and the brother asked his wife to get up and prepare something to eat. This irritated my brother so much that he insisted his brother get up and cook himself.

I admire Gender Link’s commitment to the media. As a result, our presses are much more gender aware. My editor is developing a section specifically devoted to gender, and we have more and more opportunities to highlight gender issues in our writing. I have written several articles on GBV, and they have resulted in people of all ages expressing their anger at this plague in our society. This is being matched with opposition to GBV in social media, and even by the government, which has created a committee to strength the Domestic Violence Act.

I can say that my life has been transformed. I am a new person, and the changes have been for the better. I am not afraid to speak about my belief in gender equality. I denounce stereotypes, and moreover, I can see the changes that are happening because of my work and my voice. Thank to Gender Links, I discovered South Africa, and had the privilege to meet journalists across the region, and understand their realities and everyday challenges. It has been a wonderful journey for my personal and professional development.


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