Poonam Sewnarain – Mauritius

Poonam Sewnarain – Mauritius

Date: July 1, 2015
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I have travelled a long road with Gender Links, starting with a village workshop in 2008 at St. Malo. During the Gender Links and Media Watch Organisation workshop, I heard the word SADC for the first time in my life, let alone the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. I remember quite well that at this workshop we were given little pamphlets on the SADC Protocol with beautiful Mauritian pictures of children and women breaking stereotypes. The workshop was very informative with a national and regional understanding of gender issues.

My second workshop with Gender Links came in 2010 at Baie Du Tombeau, that focused on “Media Literacy and Women in Politics.” I learnt how to read the newspapers, listen to the news and watch television with gender lenses. Most important of all I learned about the gender concepts. I have grasped this so well that I can explain this concept to other people. I am proud to say that the third Gender Links workshop I participated in helped me acquire a skill to draft a Gender Action Plan and a Gender Based Violence Action Plan for the District Council of Pamplemousses Riviere du Rempart.

In 2012, I attended the Centre of Excellence Workshop at the District Council of Pamplemousses/Riviere du Rempart. Since my first encounter with Gender Links, I have nothing but praise for this organization, and when Gender Links did an interview with me, I was quick to say that whenever I hear there is a workshop to be facilitated by Gender Links, I am prepared to leave everything behind to participate. I am what I am today because of Gender Links and I will always be grateful.

Never in my wildest dream I would have thought that my voice would be heard. It did not happen just like that, not even after my first encounter with Gender Links at the Village Workshop. But after the second workshop on “Media Literacy and Women in Politics” we did a mock radio interview. Gender Links encouraged me to talk. I will always remember how I was smiling and not replying to questions, until they asked me very down to earth question on my husband and children. Then they started asking me questions on issues raised at the workshop itself and what I intend to put in my electoral manifestoes. This triggered me, and it was like a revision of the three day I spent in workshops. While I was talking, I did not even realise that it was me talking as never in my life I have talked on such important issues.

The first time I talked in a microphone was during the Gender Links Workshop on Women in Politics, during the mock radio interview. At the beginning, my voice was trembling and it took me some time to get confidence in myself. While I was doing the interview with Loga, the television crew from the MBC came and wanted to interview participants. But when Loga chose me to be interviewed by the MBC I really trembled and my feet were like jelly, but I took up the challenge. My voice trembled at the beginning, but during the interview I regained my confidence and the interview went well. My greatest joy was seeing myself on television for the first time in my life. This happened the same evening. My husband and family were so proud of me. Friends and families from all over Mauritius telephoned to congratulate me. I will always be grateful to Loga for this. I must add that Loga also telephoned me to say how good I was.

I work in a school for vulnerable children called “Ecole de la Vie” (School of life). All the children are street children and most of them come from separated parents and have had a difficult background. Some of them have been on drugs. But working with Gender Links since 2008 has helped me to communicate better. I gained confidence in myself, which is of utmost importance for the kind of work that I do. If I do not have confidence in myself how can I get all these vulnerable children to develop confidence in themselves and live a different life? After their schooling with us, we have to make sure that they do not go on the streets again and we help them to find jobs. We want them to live in a healthy environment. During Gender Links training when we were told to prepare our manifestoes and were given ideas on how to do this, the problems of these children immediately came to my mind, and social integration of vulnerable children was one of the points in the manifestoes.

I feel that my whole life has changed. I am no longer the shy person I used to be. I am prepared to face any challenge, and look at the positive side of things. My husband and even my mother in law are so proud of me; they have lots of respect for me. This is because I have confidence in myself. Now, I am asked to speak at social events often, and seize these opportunities to share what I have learned at Gender Links. Whenever the MBC television is present for any function I am pushed forward to talk and I really do not mind as I know I can talk.

Without the three trainings that I got from Gender Links, I would never have been able to be the person that I am today: confident, knowledgeable, self-assured and knowing how to talk to people and to the media.



One thought on “Poonam Sewnarain – Mauritius”

vinay says:

Really happy. A woman is fighting for gender equality.

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