Rachael Mwelwa – Zambia

Rachael Mwelwa – Zambia

Date: May 29, 2012
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I am the deputy mayor of Kabwe, and in this position I have seen so many are the times when women are stereotyped as being weak and lazy or whatever other words that can be used to degrade them. But this hasn’t stopped me from doing what I do best. Today I can say that my life has completely changed, because I have been able to demonstrate good leadership to the community, and make people understand God’s principal of the equality between a man and a woman.  I am a Zambian citizen aged 53; I live in Kabwe District, which is in the Central Province of Zambia. I am the Deputy Mayor for Kabwe Municipal Council and I am also the first female councillor for Chimanimani ward.

I first met Gender Links in 2012 when we were called to submit award entries for the Third Gender Justice Local Government Summit and Awards. I was so excited about it, because it involved efforts to end gender violence and empower women, which are issues that are so close to my heart.

My most memorable experience with GL was when Colleen Lowe Morna (GL Chief Executive Officer) visited our council, and held a meeting in Kabwe. Then latter she visited my Chimanimani ward. I was able to show her different areas and shared some of my ideas of working on a certain project, which was on street lighting. Working on this project is so important to me because a lot of Gender Based Violence has taken place in my ward. Perpetrators are the most active in the evening; recently a woman was raped and killed when she was coming from church in the late hours of the day.

Having Colleen in Kabwe was so exciting because I also had an interview with her under a memorable Mukuyu tree. We had an exercise which was running under international Women’s Day with about 50 women, and this exercise made me realise that indeed we are well organised, hard working and we can fight GBV.

Being a councillor has made me work more closely with the community, and I know their needs. For example, the Chimanimani ward has a poor drainage system, and I am working on that. I have already applied for some funds from the council which will be given soon.

The people of Chimanimani gave me their vote on 20th September 2011, and emerged victorious elections; I will make sure they also get the best services.

Participating for the first time in Gender Links’ summit is the greatest thing a woman like me can achieve in life. I was very humbled with all the presentations that took place, and I learned a lot of which will make me to be a better leader for my people. I will be able to share what I have learned, and put it into practice. The Gender Links summit was really an eye opener for me; it changed my life completely. Having developed a strong interest in issues of GBV, I will be able to advocate GBV in our local authority and the community at large. I have a task to reform all youths who think violence is the best way to resolve certain problems; I will never rest until I see that cases of GBV are completely gone.

I learned so many different strategies and tactics through Gender Links to be effective in the fight against GBV. Some people get messages across by using music or drama, so I am organising some drama groups to start performing in my community to communicate the message of GBV through the performances. Encountering fresh, new ideas like this are really life changing; they help me feel better about my work, and make me active again.

This free knowledge that I have gained, I will not keep it to myself. I will share it with my community, until we can all say together “Yes we can” and “the time is now!”
I wish to give credit to GL for the job well done; they have given a great effort, and sacrificed their time in the fight against gender violence. This programme has an impact on each one of us. GL has advised women to wake up from slumber and struggle to improve. Indeed, through our own efforts, we will see 50% representation of women in public and private sectors, business, political parties, government, NGOs, churches and many other spaces.

With all the knowledge from GL, I now have the ability to research, and am so confident in everything that I do. I do not discriminate against any one because we are all equal and none of us is superior to the other. I am a listening leader, and I contribute to the improvement of my community’s lifestyle.

I am proud to say that the things that I do are so beneficial to the community; I ensure that they have access to health, education and clean water. The people are so responsible and helpful in all areas, and Gender Links has helped me see and acknowledge this. I am an influential leader especially on matters of GBV; I work with anyone including the church. I have seen that the local churches have enhanced their women Ministry groups lately, who have been seen engaging in community sensitization on the need for males and females to live as equals, as Gods creation, to enhance peace and subsequently reduce the prevalence of GBV activities.

Women are also aware that that a 30% land allocation has been given to them and the 70% is to be competed for by both men and women. This is good initiative because it is one of empowering women.

In future, I plan to concentrate on farming. I will not contest in the next elections; this is because age is catching up with me and I need to give a chance to the young ones who are the future leaders. I cannot deny the fact that it is a good decision to be in politics; it takes a disciplined and hard working woman to be a leader. Thank you very much Gender Links, you are nice people, we are a family and we want you to visit us in Kabwe again. Until then, we will work together to end gender based violence!



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