Lethubuhle Baloyi – Beitbridge Municipality

Lethubuhle Baloyi – Beitbridge Municipality

Date: August 3, 2015
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Striving to put climate change issues into context

I am a manager by profession and I am in the middle management team at Beitbridge Town Council. We specialise in climate change projects where we utilise the effluent for farming activities so that it does not contaminate the international river, Limpopo, which supplies the town with drinking water. I am also the gender focal person for the council.

The Council provides gender-sensitive service delivery. It has budgeted for gender activities in its annual budget. The council has seen that housing and accommodation is one of the main things that affect both men and women. It has partnered with private developers to service the stands. These stands are given to both men and women. There is a stands waiting list disaggregated by sex whereby both men and women are free to join.

We have also crafted policies that are gender-sensitive. These include a sexual harassment policy, dressing and induction policies. The council is actively involved in commemorations such as women’s day. We conduct planning around gender issues with other stakeholders and sensitise the community so that they report gender-based violence.

The encounter with Gender Links (GL) sensitised us and gave birth to a number of projects meant to mainstream gender. We are actively engaged in the construction of public ablution facilities in business centres. In response to health needs, we are providing a fully equipped clinic with services that assist the public freely so as to cater for vulnerable members of the community.

Our community was faced with muggings and sexual abuse cases facilitated by bushes surrounding public areas. We managed to put into action a bush clearing exercise that saw a reduction in cases of muggings and sexual abuse. We went further and improved road networks for accessibility and the move will go a long way to promote economic development in our community.

The education we received on gender mainstreaming saw us improving the council schools to respond to the special needs of both boys and girls. We are now actively participating in gender issues and coordination with other stakeholders has seen us provide a gender-neutral service.

We feel indebted to GL because the centre of excellence (COE) programme has seen an increase in participation of women in council business. The prevailing situation resulted in council organising clean up campaigns and other awareness programmes meant to sensitise our community to gender issues.

The education I personally gained from GL through its workshops helped me to gain buy-in from the management and policymakers. I also managed to convince council employees, residents and business associations and they are now actively participating in the programme. The situation created a good mutual relationship between council and residents and there is now a quick response to the needs and complaints of residents.

There are some challenges that prevent us from realising our goals. The Council has allocated few resources to gender issues and it is a major setback in our endeavour to mainstream gender in service provision. Some members still feel that gender is mainly for women and they do not prioritise it. Finally, the gender desk is taken as an extra-curricular activity hence not given adequate time.

I personally have realised the importance of gender ever since I was elected the gender focal person. My active participation in gender activities with other stakeholders like Gender Links, Ministry of Women Affairs, IOM, Social Welfare and ChildLine Zimbabwe has made me realise the importance of gender.

As GL is working towards gender mainstreaming we responded positively to the effort. For instance, we mainly work with the public and the council has a security section that deals largely with illegal vendors. When they were conducting raids, there were cases where they were accused of sexually harassing the vendors. The situation prompted us to have policies that guide us when carrying our duties like the code of conduct, sexual harassment policy and many more that allow the employees to feel safe.

In the near future, I plan to select departmental gender focal persons that will work with me and also involve other council employees.

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