Matholang Damane – Mafeteng Urban Council COE

Matholang Damane – Mafeteng Urban Council COE

Date: September 16, 2015
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Gender equality results in good governance and poverty alleviation for everyone

My first meeting with Gender Links (GL) was very hectic because I was not interested in gender issues. Now that I am gender aware, the outcome has reflected on the community I am serving and that is bringing light. My job is to change people’s lives at the grassroots level from the worst position to better off economically, socially and politically. My office is contiguous to the community.

I am the town clerk for Mafeteng Urban Council. My daily work includes attending to people’s claims and disputes over land, preparing council’s budget, coordinating council’s services with other government ministries or departments ensuring that the council operates according to government laws and policies and managing all council’s staff.

Since the interaction with GL, my life has really changed. The way I see things, the way I look at other people and the way I do things has all changed. Before the intervention I used to undermine decisions taken by women and hence discouraged women being given leadership positions. Ms Ntolo Lekau really made me take the battle around gender as my battle. In every meeting and public gathering I am concerned with changing people’s minds with regard to gender stereotypes. GL made me keep disaggregated data in job provision and service provision, keep records and always provide evidence of work done. This was not the case before becoming a centre of excellence (COE). Council’s gender champion and gender focal person (Mr Thabang Sejanamane and Ms Palesa ‘Moleli) helped me really understand gender equality and gain the confidence to lead as a woman. Mr Sejanamane asked questions such as: “How will the suggested project benefit women as the core of families”. He is always concerned about gender issues.

My husband is now able to help me and I have gained self-esteem and confidence since he now understands that I can be a leader and he has begun to include me in decision making with regard to family matters.

“My wife you are such a strong woman I know you are capable. I think you can be a good leader”, my husband, Mr Damane, said.

“Thanks Mom for buying me this car that looks the same as my brother’s” said my little daughter, Katli.

Gender Links introduced us to the 28 targets of the SADC Gender Protocol and encouraged the council to contribute to the SADC protocol target of women’s equal representation and participation in all areas of decision making. GL also helped the council to develop the Gender Action Plan

Since the intervention, my colleagues have also made gender issues their battles. Our human resources manager now gives paternity leave and nursing hour to staff members and our assistant administration officer was runner up at the national summit in the climate change category. All staff members consider gender issues when delivering services to the community, for example when engaging casual labourers both men and women get equal job opportunities. Unlike before the intervention, when some work was reserved for men.

Our human resources manager disseminates this new knowledge, regarded as “good practice”, to other staff members and other human resource officers. Our assistant administration officer makes the public aware of climate change, its effects and how to respond to them through public gatherings. This work is presented at Gender Links summits.

A lack of resources, cultural stereotypes and budget constraints are the main challenges that hinder us from doing gender work perfectly in the councils.

My future plans are to liaise with other COEs in Mafeteng and other departments like the Child and Gender Protection Unit and the Department of Gender in addressing district gender issues and cascading GL knowledge to other councils that are not yet COEs in order to establish a district gender committee. This will also help to include gender activities in our council’s budget. I plan to hold a workshop on women’s empowerment and gender based violence for all heads of departments and the gender committee.

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