Leanne Carol Britton – Botswana

Leanne Carol Britton – Botswana

Date: July 2, 2015
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I feel stronger and more empowered as a woman as a result of being associated with Gender Links. My most memorable experience with the organization was winning a prize in the National Alliance section of the Botswana national summit in 2013, in the Education and Economic Development Category. I thought that I had no chance, as it was my first time to compete and it was all very new to me. I was so honoured to be nominated to represent Botswana at the Regional Summit. I embraced the opportunity and experience that was given me during the competition. I have gained strength and determination not only to keep our programme going, but also to start the current Social Responsibility initiative with the Mentally and Physically Disabled children on our District.

I am the Group Training and Development Manager of a Botswana Based Tourism Company that has six Camps and Lodges within Botswana. We employ over 500 people within the company. My job is not only to train the company’s employees on the nature of the hospitality business, but also to develop those employees as well as the community through my position. One of the key elements of my role is to identify and support agreed upon Corporate Social Responsibility areas in line with the Botswana Government and the county’s Vision 2016.

In this position, I realized that GBV touches all of our lives in one way or another, and that I am in a position to make a difference. It is only through Education that we can make any headway in this area. Since working with Gender Links, I have become much more of a Gender Activist – I have subsequently become a much stronger, more determined women. I have learned to gather support from the people who are committed to this cause and who will take action rather than just talk.

Through exposure and networking with others in this area at the GL conferences it has inspired me to do more. To take on more projects with assistance of those other women that are active within my community. We have all become a very strong team in the Chobe District and are committed to making change on Gender Related topics and empowering other women. Kubi Rama in particular has helped me grow in my awareness of gender. She is a very strong, committed and active woman and I see a lot of myself in her.

I have gained so much through partnering with Gender Links. I think my actions of presenting 2twonew successful projects at the Summit two years in a row can testify to that. The support from the owners and senior management of the company that I work for has been so inspiring. The encouragement that has been shown to me by our employees keeps me going, as well as the support from the Council, School Head and teaching staff, care givers as well as the Chief’s.

The most important people who have been responsible for the change in my work are the children. Both projects are about children; both the “Out of school Youth” and the Mentally and Physically Disabled Children. It is seeing the changes that are made in their lives that has inspired me the most. Both my children and husband are also inspired by the work that I have been doing. My two boys want to become better people. My husband and friends always encourages me to do more and do better.

Many people around me have become more aware of Gender Equality and in particular Gender Based Violence and how it effects the youth in particular. I have realized that people need to be educated in this matter to change their perception and behaviour. One of our employees saw some of the children in wheelchairs that came on a boat cruise at Chobe Safari Lodge. He had been hiding away his 11 year old daughter who is a paraplegic since birth, as he was ashamed of what the community would think. He approached me for assistance to organize for his daughter to be enrolled at the Special Care Unit. I have facilitated this and his daughter Onkemetse will be starting at the school in the new term on the 2nd of June 2014. I can’t wait to see how this will change this young girl’s life!

An important contribution of my work has been the co-ordination of all stakeholders associated with these children in order to eradicate GBV from entering into their lives. Education of the community on GBV, and the plight of the Mentally and Physically Disabled children is critical for creating change. Through our work, we can influence acceptance, love and care of these children within the community. Hopefully my actions will lead to changes in practices within our immediate District and eventually lead to other changes within our country.

The biggest challenge has to be that I work full time for a company, but am also spear heading this project, so time is always a challenge. I try to be very organized to be able to be effective. The other challenge is that we began this project thinking that it would just be about providing for the schools material need, but because we have become aware of how GBV plays such a negative part in these children’s lives the project has mushroomed into other areas. We are however up for the challenge and are networking with other stakeholders in order to effectively eradicate GBV from these children’s lives.

In the future, I want to move the projects upward and onward. To do all we can to make the lives of these very special children better. To influence a change of attitude within our Country relating to the Disabled. Thank you Gender Links for inspiring me to become a better person!!


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