Mathato Mabitle-Sanqebethu Council COE

Mathato Mabitle-Sanqebethu Council COE

Date: June 30, 2015
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I am Mathato Mabitle, and I am from Linotsing, in the district of Mokhotlong. In the Sanqebethu council, it has been a long journey with Gender Links. People normally ask me how I survive, since I am always hands-on when there are gender issues that need to be addressed.

In 2010, I was invited to attend a workshop here with the Sanqebethu council; at that time it was called the Mateanong council. The workshop was held by Gender Links, and they were talking about SADC gender protocol. It was my first to hear about the SADC protocol; we learned that Lesotho also signed up and agreed that by 2015 we will achieve those mentioned targets. It was an amazing workshop, especially because we did not even know there was something like the protocol. We watched the SADC gender protocol DVD, showing when the protocol was signed and the people who took part.

After the workshop, I asked my chief to help me call a gathering so that I could pass the information out to the community. People were very excited and promised to spread the message, but some people did not understand why I called the meeting. Some believed only leaders could call a meeting, but still I did and people came. I realized from then on that there was a potential leader in me, and I worked on it from that day. My chief asked me to help him at his office, I was doing secretarial work.

In 2011, I decided to contest for the local government elections as an independent candidate, and I met Gender Links again. At that time it was at a workshop called women in politics; the workshop was meant for all women candidates who were going to contest for the local government elections. Issues discussed were women in government, how to support one another as women, and how to plan our campaigns so that people would elect us. It was very difficult contesting with men; most people believed that politics are for men. It was even worse for me because I was an independent candidate, and people believe that leaders only come from political parties. It was a different experience for me, but I stood and tried.

Here, people still believe that women cannot stand for elections, especially as independent candidates; they think someone must come from a political party. I know I am a good leader and I make such different in my community. I just need to work very hard to show all those who still do not believe in me as a woman; they will realise the potential I have.

My community is very supportive; most of them encouraged me to stand for the elections. I think they encouraged me to stand because they saw a very strong leader and believed in me. Unfortunately I lost, but it did not stop me from doing what I love, which is community work. We kept journals during the elections, and after the elections, Gender Links came back to collect our journals. They found out where we were, and Gender Links produced the local government elections pamphlet. I was featured; when my community saw the pamphlet they were very happy and respected me even more.

At the moment, I am working with different support groups that I have formed, trying to encourage men also to take part in these groups. I am also a farmer, and I sew clothes. I would like to work very hard so that when we have elections again I will win. I want to see my community developing, and every woman and man participating equally.

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