Sekhonyane Letsie -Lilala Council COE

Sekhonyane Letsie -Lilala Council COE

Date: September 16, 2015
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Gender equality is here, we just need to work together

He still remembers vividly what he felt when he first heard about Gender Links (GL) and how he has never looked back since that day and how his life has changed. He had never met GL officially or attended any of their workshops, but heard so much about it from neighbouring councils. During the 16 days of activism against gender violence, Mazenod Council, one of the COE councils, invited him to attend their march which was followed by a big public gathering.

As a community chief he was also expected to speak to the public, just to encourage people to report gender violence so that perpetrators of those acts could be brought to book and to suggest measures that community members can take in order to prevent or decrease levels of violence. He had never addressed people on gender issues and he was very reluctant to do it, but he said that he did not have that much choice as his colleagues kind of forced him and he decided to give it a try.

Chief Sekhonyana is a chief councillor at Lilala Community Council among the 2015 COE councils. He was elected by other chiefs to represent them in the council and his portfolio had to change because he was now a chief and a councillor and was expected to perform more tasks. Most people used to call him a typical hard headed Mosotho man because he talked too much and was the kind of person that does not agree with much. Every time they attended their council meetings he would urge them to the extent that his other colleagues would even walk out of the meetings. He admits that life has not been very easy but he has changed for the better and all thanks to Gender Links.

Cllr Chief Sekhonyana was not part of the management team when GL staff visited their council to do stages 1 and 2, but he was very excited when he got the report of the meeting from the management. He was terribly eager and could not wait for GL to come and do the actual training with them as councillors. He learnt that the relationship between Mazenod Community Council and GL was totally amazing and realising how much the councillors had changed got him thinking and he wanted to know the reason and he would only know if Lilala, his council, becomes part of the COE.

When GL was at the council doing stages 3, 4 and 5, Cllr Sekhonyana was excited and looked forward to going back to his community to share the knowledge he had gained from the workshop. They were doing attitude surveys and citizen score cards when he realised some of the very important issues that need to be addressed. He mentioned that his community members had negative attitudes, especially the men, as they misinterpreted gender and blamed the government for bringing up the issue in their country and now their wives disrespected them and threatened to sue every time they had family arguments. The councillor smiled when he mentioned this because he said that was what he used to say and he also did not listen to people talking about gender. Sometimes he would even refuse to call public gatherings for private organisations and the Gender Ministry as he felt that those people were going to confuse his people even more. However, when he attended the Mazenod Community Council 16 days march and listened to speakers at that event it changed his attitude altogether about gender issues.

He said that he thanks Gender Links for the wonderful work it is doing for community councils and the community. He feels that his life is a testimony to the good work that GL is doing and he could not stop talking about Mazenod Council and how all the councillors have changed and he does not ever regret attending that march. It opened his mind and changed his attitude forever. He is now in a position to assist his family in any way, especially the chores that in the past he would not dare do, but now he can do with a smile and he feels he is obliged to do so.

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