Marjorie Timm – Zambia

Marjorie Timm – Zambia

Date: June 30, 2015
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Marjorie Timm is a councilor and gender champion in the Kabwe District Council. Before she became a councilor she worked as a teacher, meeting many children and their parents, which gave her insight into many of the challenges that the community was facing, such as early marriages and child abuse.

She became a councilor in 2011, and at that time Kabwe was already part of the COE process. Her first encounter with Gender Links was in March 2012 when she attended a workshop about leadership and GVB. She was awarded a prize for having the second best presentation. Before she became a councilor and did training with Gender Links, she thought that gender was just something that concerned women. “Now I’ve realized that gender is something that boy and girls, women and men have to be involved in”. Timm was the first female councilor in her ward, and at the Kabwe District Council they are only four female councilors in total. Even though they are the minority she has never felt undermined. “We know our rights as women,” which can be attributed in part to the training they have received from Gender Links.

GBV is an issue that Marjorie feels very passionate about, since she grew up in a home where her father abused her mother, who never reported him to the police. During her time as a councilor she has fortunately seen a lot of changes in attitudes in the community. “Women are now able to speak out and report cases of violence, and it is being addressed by the police. There is a Victim Support Unit in our local police thats deals with GBV cases. We have also had cases of men reporting cases of violence by their women. Before they were ashamed to report, afraid to be laughed at.” The police have been trained by Gender Links.

For Marjorie, it’s important to meet with the people in the community. She regularly calls for community meetings, open to everyone, that addresses HIV, early marriage, GBV, etc. The police will be involved as well as stake holders within the community, and Timm will talk in the local language to make sure everyone feels included. Naomi Sakala is the Director of Planning in Kabwe, and is also the Gender Focal Point. Being in charge of information in the ward communities, she appreciates Marjorie’s commitment and involvement in activities such as coordinating Women’s Day, as well as her drive for change through lobbying and advocacy. “She lobbied for the maternity block to be constructed so that women should not be able to go to town, and she was successful. Now they have started constructing it.”

Another area of work that is critical for Marjorie is to make sure that women benefit in getting land. The council is working hard to implement the national policy that encourages women to apply for land and makes sure that 30 % of the land goes to women, which can make a huge change in many women’s lives. “When a woman has her own property, she will become economically independent even though she gets divorced, or her spouse passes away.”

The council is also empowering women through women’s clubs. They register through the councils and apply for funds to develop small businesses, such as chicken rearing or gardening. Today there are more than 200 clubs and after a year of funding, many women manage to generate funds on their own which has made a lot of change in their lives.

Timm can see a change in society not only when it comes to GBV, but also HIV. People are able to talk openly about it and address it. Two months ago when her 13-year old daughter was sick and had to go to the hospital. The hospital councilor seized the opportunity to talk with her daughter about HIV and tested her. They test everyone coming to the hospital. Marjorie believes that this change of attitude also can be seen at family levels. She can see it in her own family where she is able to talk openly to both her son and daughter about relationships, sex and HIV. “I tell my son to treat girls just as he wants his friends to treat his sister”.

For the future, Marjorie look forward to continuing to work hand in hand with Gender Links to further address gender issues, empowering women and work towards the target of 50/50 by 2015. If she had the resources, she would like to open a youth center and have training for the youths to acquire skills and empower them.


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