Shadreck Mwiinga – Zambia

Shadreck Mwiinga – Zambia

Date: May 29, 2012
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I am a proud Zambian citizen whose home town is in Mazabuka District, I was born on 15th May 1958. I did my primary education at Nabukuyu in Monze District, then secondary education level at St. Edmunds in Mazabuka and Solwezi Secondary School respectively in North Western Province. I did training in Teaching, Social work, and Human Resource Management. I am now a well known person in the community for my involvement in Gender as well as GBV. During my work, I encourage workers before work, and I also encourage drama groups to perform at most gatherings, so many people can learn something.

At the moment, I am involved in supporting Drama and Cultural groups that perform at various meetings to sensitise the community about the ills of GBV. As a former Councillor, Mayor and now business man, I am now working with an organisation called the Aids Task Force.

Ignorant as some people can be, hard hearted, seemingly illiterate and inconsiderate about some issues, a little advocacy is what it takes to change their attitude or behaviour forever. I can even say the same is true of myself; I have totally changed my focal point, and how I perceived gender and understood GBV after meeting Gender Links.

The first time I met Gender Links was in the year 2008. At that particular time, we had an event that involved introducing links and finding out how the local councils were faring as far as women’s participation in politics and leadership. I recall being visited by Faides .T. Nsofu, Susan Tommy and Hope Kasase. Since 2008 I have been in contact with Gender Links on matters of GBV at the local level, as well as attending seminars and workshops. I have come across a few challenges since that first meeting, as I became aware that women are discriminated against by men due to misinterpretations of tradition and culture, and that through this also women are taught negative attitudes.

My most memorable experience with GL was a time when I participated in the publication of the first GL book, Coalface. This has made me proud, because I could see that my contribution has added value to GL. My subsequent encounters with GL include a time when I was invited to attend a Local Government and Gender Justice Workshop for all Mayors and Chairman of all the 72 Local Councils, which was held at Lusaka Hotel. There, we were challenged to champion GBV in our councils. At the workshop, each council was asked to make policies that would ensure that women were not discriminated against, and did not face violence. Yes, when I went back my council, the Mazabuka Municipal Council put up the policies on recruitment and promotion of women and the land allocation of women at 30% and 70% to be competed for by both men and women. This has cheered women a lot, although it is slowly being achieved.

The other encounter is the management workshop in Livingstone, which invited Town Clerks, Directors of various sections and NGOs to look at how best councils are implementing policies that were put in place, the deviations, and the way forward. This brought the awareness of managers that they were stakeholders in ensuring that women deserved to be given jobs per their qualifications. It helped us see not just the theory around gender equality, but what we could do in our positions to implement it. The impact of this meeting brought about changes in the attitudes of managers, and as of now there are four women at management level. This is compared to the initial one woman compared to seven men. We have seen good progress indeed, and we hope more will be achieved.

I have realised that I need to support women, and view them as partners in development. There is a deeper sense that many organisations and government should be lobbed to continually review the set laws so that they could be made stiffer to would-be perpetrators of GBV. Another area of concern is that Gender Links now needs to follow a strategy of sensitising men on issues related to GBV, so that women and men can move in one direction. I was thinking, could it not be a good idea to bring husband and wife to these meetings together?

Gender Links can indeed take credit for much of the awareness raising being done in communities. The people are aware that GBV is an offense, and also that women now have come on board in decision making process in many spheres of our work. Policies at the local level are being implemented, and people at this level have now become involved in matters of GBV.

I have gained so many things through working with GL. As the saying goes, knowledge is power. I have gained enough knowledge in working with women, widows and victims of GBV from diverse angles. My attitude has changed, because I have realised that to bring development, we need each other, and in addressing issues of discrimination, we need to encourage the participation of both men and women. The skills I have gained have led me to realize that handling conflicts is vital, and realising that we have different views which will lead to one thing: ‘DEVELOPMENT’. The values I have learned are also important. I am aware that each person needs to be loved, and deserves respect. These key values will reduce GBV.

Change of attitude is usually associated with empathy. You see what is happening in society, things like women battering, rape, assault, divorce and child abuse activities. We all need to be involved to remedy these things, and it takes all of us advocating to those in authority for change. Due to activities in the community on GBV, laws put in place, and sensitisation done in communities, people are now geared to move forward and ensure all forms of Gender violence are reduced. It is a complex issue that needs men to seriously change their attitudes towards women.

Since getting involved with GL activities, a lot of different community groups have been formed to be watchdogs and whistle blowers where ever they see Gender Violence being perpetrated.
My future plans now is to involve churches and media institutions, and to continue supporting drama and cultural groups in a bid to have a wider catchment area for those talking the ills of the GBV taking place. I feel that the youths must be involved fully in this endeavor, as these young people could be easily influenced by either beer or would-be perpetrators of GBV in society, if they are not reached by the right messages first.

I implore church groupings to encourage family life movements and marriage encounters to entrench positive values in their preparatory lessons to young people preparing for marriage. When husbands and wives respect and accept each other in their vulnerability, they avoid physical confrontation and engage in meaningful dialogue.

I am also encouraging GL to continue advocating for stiffer laws to government, so that everyone will realize that violence against women is bad, will not be tolerated, and will punished to the full extent of the law. I also hope that Gender Links continues to bring men on board and take them through what women have undergone, because for now the gap in understanding the need to work together with men and women is big. Men still stick to their traditional norm of superiority, when in fact consultation and cooperation are vital.



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