Maneo Ramokoatsi_Lesotho

Maneo Ramokoatsi_Lesotho

Date: June 30, 2015
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I am Maneo Ramokoatsi, and I live in Ha Ramokoatsi, in the Ts’ana-Talana Community Council, Mafeteng District. I am a councillor here in the Ts’ana-Talana community council. Since I was a little a girl, I had always wanted to be leader; I’m wanted to be in control of my life, and inspire people to list to and follow me. Even though I wanted to be a leader, a politician was not in my mind, because I was raised with the mentality that women are not supposed to be politicians; only men can be, because they are strong and powerful. That was what I knew when I was growing up, and it did not bother me at all. I knew for sure that one day I would be a leader, and people would respect me as a woman.

I wanted to be a leader, but did not know what kind of leader I wanted to be. I decided that I should start from my village; there, I encouraged women and men to form support groups in our village, and we renamed it “Seho Se llile.” I decided to form a support group because I realized how many people were dying of HIV/AIDS. They were not getting tested, and some who knew their status were not taking their medication properly. I saw that there was really a problem, and people needed to be guided and get help from their community. Our main job was to bathe patients, give them food so that they can have their medication, do their laundry, and support them; just be there for them.

Although I liked what I was doing in the support group, I decided to join politics as well, just to see if I could do it, because I was a woman. Surprisingly, I got amazing support from my community, both women and men, and it made me realize that I was capable and born to be a leader. In 2010, I contested for the first local government elections and I won. At that time, Gender Links came to work with us as a council, and that’s when I first encountered them. I had little knowledge on gender issues, and Gender Links held a number of workshops explaining gender issues. Through this process, I gained knowledge that will not easily erased. I started to understand importance of both women and men in the community.

I worked very hard to teach the community those issues, and it was very difficult as I was fighting with most men. They were saying that I was corrupting their partners; it was a difficult time, but I knew I was doing the right thing. Women and have an equal right just like men. Those workshops helped me a lot, because I was given ideas on how to answer all the community’s questions during public gatherings.

Since working with Gender Links, I have never looked back as an individual, and also as a councillor or leader. I do different activities in my community just to show people that they can reduce poverty and live their life. We bought tents, chairs and tables, and now we hire them to people when they have gatherings. We are trying to help our community earn a living, and that’s my job as a councillor, to help people see the light.

I am now proud to say that my life has changed as a politician; at first it was difficult to contest with men, but after Gender Links trainings, I was able to realize my potential as a woman, and was able to talk about gender to all other women and men in my community. Now women know their position; Gender Links has played an important part in our lives, and I am looking forward to a fruitful partnership on gender equality.


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