Lydia Sambo – Zambia

Date: August 19, 2015
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Fight gender based violence!

Lydia Sambo, the Agriculture Extension Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture in Katete District, is a person who has enormous passion to improve the lives of women. Her first encounter with Gender Links was during the 16 days of Activism in 2011. She said at the time that there was not much explanation about the role of Gender Links, but she was informed that they wanted to work with entrepreneurs.

Later, the gender focal point person at Katete District Council invited her to apply for an entry to the 2012 National Gender Summit. With time, Lydia and the team formed GID at the district level and they received training on gender and reducing the gap between men and women. After she had received training on gender based violence (GBV), she told herself that she would fight GBV to the end. She also realised that the economic empowerment of women is a permanent solution in the fight against GBV. When she was introduced to Gender Links, she learnt about gender based violence and because of that she pays a great deal of attention to injuries and damages to women that are caused by GBV. She took it upon herself to help women who have experienced GBV by spearheading programmes that help women stand on their own. This is evident in the way she has been working with women, despite not having a gender department in her Ministry.

She was also chosen as a gender focal point person for Katete. She came to realise that society believes it is normal to live in an abusive relationship. For instance, there is a Bemba saying that “Ubuchende bwa mwaume tabutoba in’ganda” (a man’s unfaithfulness does not break a marriage). She has also linked trained GBV survivors with other organisations which are involved in sensitisation on GBV, such as World Vision, so that people are made aware of how GBV negatively affects women.

Lydia has ensured that her Ministry created a gender desk and that resources were allocated towards it. She became engaged in gender programmes where plans submitted by various departments were to be monitored and she happened to be among the monitoring team. The good facilitation skills that she possesses, as well as her ability to speak the local language, gave her an advantage among her colleagues. However, her work has not been without challenges. For instance, Katete being a rural council, could not cope with the advanced level of the input from Gender Links. This caused them to lose step in terms of the learning taking place.

“Thanks to Gender Links I boarded a plane for the first time. All my life I have dreamed of boarding a plane, even just touching a plane! Thank God it became a reality during the regional summit. It was also the first time that I had a passport. This has given me the opportunity to travel to other countries for official duties.”

The beneficiary has received awards for her work at both the country and regional level summits. She attributes her change to GL staff member, Faides, who encouraged her to continue working towards putting a smile on the face of a GBV survivor. She further appreciates GL for helping her to achieve her desire of seeing to it that gender issues are considered in her Ministry, through the various GL training sessions that she has undergone.


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