Noorani Ahmad Gunglee – Mauritius

Noorani Ahmad Gunglee – Mauritius

Date: July 1, 2015
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Before attending the first workshop with Gender Links in Mauritius, I thought that gender meant women. I was fortunate to be among the few village councillors who attended the workshop. Little did I realise that gender meant both women and men and how both sexes are perceived by society as well as the role of both in society. Yes, Gender Links has been a real eye opener. I am now so gender sensitive that it was my idea not only to put a woman as village councillor, but to promote her to Chairperson. When I was invited to attend the workshop of Gender Links in August 2012, I did not hesitate one second, knowing how much I would get from GL workshops.

As a taxi driver, I have direct contact with men and women in my locality as well as outside. I also hear people talk and know the problems of my locality. I share their pains, their sorrows and their joys. Over and above, I am a Councillor in the Village of Bel Air.

I started social work at an early age by following the steps of my father, who was doing voluntary work of the mosque. I used to helped him since I was small, and this is how I got used to helping people. Helping needy people when there is a funeral or when they need transport to go to the hospital has been a collaborative effort.

Being a District Councillor has opened the door for me. The decisions of the village council is brought up to the District Council. I will not take no for an answer, and if I am told that there is no finance to implement projects, I will use my own money. I care for the community and I want to see everyone happy.

The first GL workshop that I attended was indeed an eye and ear opener. It was the first time that he realised that sex and gender are two different things. Gender Links made me become gender sensitive. Together with other participants, I helped in developing a Gender Action Plan for my locality. I wanted to see more women in leadership positions, and became a real role model for women in the region. Whenever there is a funeral in the village I make sure that proper chairs and other infrastructure are set up to accommodate mourners. I also make sure that if the person is needy, fundraising is done to help with funeral expenses. I work in close collaboration with the police to make sure that my village is safe for women, men and children. Streets have lightings and names.

I am proud to count myself among the councillors who has taken the bull by the horns, and have decided that there must be at least three women on all group lists for village elections. I am not only seeing to it that this is done, I am also among those who have agreed that a mock Council Meeting be held to give the women skills to participate effectively in Council meetings. My worry is absenteeism in village elections, and men deciding to vote for men.

I wanted to know why there were fewer and fewer women taking sewing classes when the village council was paying for a teacher. I did a little survey to know why women were not coming to their classes. The survey showed that women preferred to stay at home as their favourite soap opera was on during the same time as the sewing class. I put a motion to the village council to put a television in the training room. The motion had unanimous approval and a television set was installed so that women could do their practical work and watching their favourite show at the same time. I want the community to make full use of the village hall, so I even took out a subscription for Canal +, so the community can watch foreign programmes as well. This simple action has led to more and more women coming for sewing classes. It has also turned the hall into a place young people come for activities.

So many of the changes I have been able to make in the community are because I am now gender sensitive. Women were staying in the house doing nothing. Now they can sell their products with free stalls given to them. However, it’s not only women in the community who are building their skills thanks to Gender Links. I myself learned how to develop a campaign on Gender Based Violence. I believe that all villages of Grand Port Savanne must participate in the 16 days campaign. I want to make sure GBV is decreasing in my village. I’m confident we are moving in the right direction, with our Gender Action Plan. Gender Links also made me realise how women are more affected by men on certain issues like climate change. I had heard about climate change, but now I have a good grasp of it through the Gender Links workshop.

The fact that the District council itself has been responsive to Gender Links workshops shows our commitment. When commitment comes from high level, it is easier for councillors to implement. After the August workshop, the Council began implementing the Gender Action Plan as well as the GBV Action Plan. The New Government Act has been promulgated, but the Mauritian population at large needs gender champions to make sure that women have a foot in the door. The idea of going from village to village to make sure that there are at least three women on all group lists is really commendable. This best practice must be shared with all villages of Mauritius.


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