Mauritius: Vanida Mootoosamy

Date: September 25, 2018
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“I am a woman. I should also get the respect I deserve even if I am divorced.” 

This is the story of Vanida Mootoosamy, a courageous woman who broke free from the shackles of domestic violence and degradation. Married off at a young age, she soon fell prey to a series of abuses and beatings from her husband. Each time, the embarrassment of what was happening to her engulfed her so deeply that she chose silence. Times came when she approached her parents about the issue but her inherent sense of loyalty to her husband got the better side of her, where she would return to him despite everything.  

During this on going process of abuse, Miss Vanida came across an advertisement in the newspaper regarding Gender Links that motivated her to attend a training session. This was the turning point in her life that changed everything. The training session helped change her perception regarding the treatment of women in society and this helped pave the way for the strong woman that she was to become in the near future. She gained communication skills that enabled her to speak for herself; finally not shying away from the truth and reality of the situation she was in. It gave her the confidence and the strength to face her husband and stand up for herself as an empowered individual. She gained a sense independence that made her believe that she could care for herself. Miss Vanida was exceptionally open minded about learning and strived to make the best of what she was experiencing through Gender Links. “I am here to learn. Before I was timid, but now they think I am a macho girl”, she said.  

The time, Miss Vanida believed, had come. She took the initiative that very few women have the courage to take. She went ahead and divorced her husband, defying all that she had previously believed in. Gender Links helped completely transform her thinking, her mindset and her personality. But as is the norm, the society disapproved of her actions. This was a difficult time in her life but her parents always stood by her, giving her emotional and moral support. Eventually, the community started to become accepting of her and her actions. More women were able to come out and speak openly about their problems and marital affairs. This is the first wave of change that Miss Vanida inspired. “I realized that the fault was mine. I needed to take initiative”. These words are what formed the foundation of the sort of person that she became. It was a series of tough decisions and disapproving nods that helped her become the role model that she is now. 

Miss Vanida acquired a diploma in business administration that enabled her to start a business. She researched in the market and finally settled on a gift card business because it was a profitable venture. This initiative of a start up by a woman is what distinguishes her position as a driver of change. And the motivation that led her to incubate her idea was Gender Links and that one advertisement that practically transformed her life.  Currently, she aspires to expand her business and open her chain all across Mauritius. She regularly attends and participates in Gender Links organized activities and hopes to create empower other women who may have been in the same position as she was.  

“What others think doesn’t matter. Whatever happens, it happens for a reason. Take the lesson and move forward.” From this, we learn of women who battled against all odds to become and achiever in this world because she believed in herself and in her abilities. Organizations like Gender Links are what instigate this and play a vital role in shaping the society with the aim of bettering society.