‘Mamofana Ramapepe -Ramapepe Council COE

‘Mamofana Ramapepe -Ramapepe Council COE

Date: July 1, 2015
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‘Mamofana Ramapepe is a Mosotho woman who grew up knowing women to be inferior to men, because the men had the last say in their families. Being a councillor, she knew that she cannot hold a position which is higher than men’s. Her contact with Gender Links helped her to gain momentum and know that she can contest the same position as a man. Gender Links staff has not only helped her to have confidence, but also to be an example for other women out there who cannot or still fear to stand on their own.

‘Mamofana as a councillor has engaged herself in many activities that help to teach and to educate people who still need to know more about gender issues. She has led several gatherings in which both women and men are trained about gender equality and gender based violence.

‘Mamofana first met with Gender Links during the COE workshops in 2012. It is during this time that her understanding of gender was clearly defined. She understood and behaved according to the cultural norms, but from the workshops she learned that women should not be considered minors or children. She learned that women should be give equal opportunities to men. ‘Mamofana always considered men as the leaders, not women, but now her understanding is different. Now, she can even stand in front of men and tell them what to do as their leader. From these workshops, she learned how to get women involved in community decisions and allow them to have a say in decisions made.

She believes that men are always hard headed, because they want to be the only decision makers. Men are always few in gatherings, and those who are there usually have negative ideas or statements. With a woman as their leader, they are usually not in support of her, because they think that women will always be less than them in making decisions. She became very strong in this journey; through the support of a few youths she formed a group of young men and women that she uses to hold meetings with small groups of men to make them understand gender issues.

She no longer considers other women minors like before, and has the confidence to stand in front of a group of men. All the people around her are also informed about gender concepts, and how important it is not to discriminate against women.

There are a lot of things that have changed since the training she got from Gender Links, because around her people have raised awareness about gender issues and do activities during the 16 days of activism against gender based violence. These are done to maintain and to help more women and men understand more about gender issues. The stereotypes are surely fading away. This is evidenced by the presence of women who are included in most development committees, including me, and are also given high positions, like those of chairpersons. It shows that men are having trust in women, and it is for women to showcase their capabilities.

Gender Links played a very important role in changing the mindset of the councillors, and that change has been disseminated to 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; in the past, they did not attend, like the village court. This would not have happened very easily had it not been because of the intervention of Gender Links through the COE process. This has proven to be very successful in gender mainstreaming.

Gender Links staff has always understood how to capacitate us and take us through all the modules and processes, despite our low level of education and our slow learning. They have managed to help us change our mindset and see things differently. They helped us to understand the role of women in society.

I have learned a lot from the COE workshops; for example, gender concepts and ending stereotypes about women. I also gained confidence as a woman councillor, to respect other people’s decisions and give them an equal opportunity to be part of decision making in development issues. I also learned about conflict management. There is an overall change in attitudes towards women, leaving behind the cultural belief that belittles women. I also learned how to use several things, such as computers, which help my work. I will be able to communicate with other councillors who are part of the COE process through the internet.

As a councillor, and as a woman who took a step to compete with men, I lead by examples. Learning from me is very easy; I need to be very courageous for other women. That is how it is easy for me to change other people’s lives, because people can understand what I teach them. I involve people in all community projects, and allow women active participation.

I am determined to continue to live an exemplary life for other women, and continue to have more meetings where men can be taught on gender issues. This will be done through the public gatherings. I would like to thank Gender Links, because more light on gender issues has been shed since we worked together. If it were not because of them, I would still just sit down in our meetings just to listen with the fear that I am disrespecting if ever I say anything against men. As of now things are better for both men and women.

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