Shamanta Domun Fagoonee – Mauritius

Shamanta Domun Fagoonee – Mauritius

Date: June 30, 2015
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I first met Gender Links in a workshop sometime in 2006, and since then my perspective and way of looking at things changed drastically, even though since my early childhood I was always fighting the disparity between boys and girls in my own way. My mother, who only attended primary school, has always guided me, and one thing always remains in the back of my mind. In the Hindu culture, girls get married and leave their parental home to live with their husband’s family. My mother has done everything possible to educate me, and has always said that neither your parents home nor that of your husband is really yours. The first thing that will happen when there is a problem is that your husband and in laws will tell you to leave and go back to your mother’s place. Then when you are back, your brothers will be aghast and will treat you badly since they fear that when you are back you will become a burden to their life. The best thing about being educated is that you are economically independent, and do not depend on others to live your life. There cannot be gender equality without education and economic independence.

It is not only having an increasing number of women in local politics that counts, it is also the way that women participate and overcome their fears, and dare to voice out and participate equally in decision making processes. Most of the women in the Moka Council are new to politics, so they get embarrassed because they do not have the same experience as their male counterparts. This should be taken care of.

In 2013, I participated in the Mauritius national summit for the most improved council performance, representing the Municipal Council of Vacoas/Phoenix. We won first prize in South Africa, among all the SADC Countries. During the national summit, I presented two projects, one on the environment and the other in the Centres of Excellence category. During my presentation for the environment category, I was very taken aback as the project was not prepared to the required standards when compared to the COE category that I had prepared myself. During the presentation, I came to know that though a lot had been done in this category by my Council, it was not possible to present it in the way it ought to have been. This challenged us to improve our record keeping and evaluation.

At the Indaba Hotel in April 2013 during the award ceremony, we were really proud that Mauritius was winning so many awards for the good work done. The Award ceremony was almost over and I was had not yet heard the name of my organization. I was disappointed, since I knew that my Council had done a lot. Then suddenly I heard Kubi saying, “There is Council which has done a tremendous job in mainstreaming gender equality, and has almost quadrupled its marking….” At that particular time I was moving my head all around to see who could be the winner, and could not believe that it was my Council. This was the most wonderful time in my life. It is not only about winning, it is also about how you have contributed for a just cause. GENDER EQUALITY YES WE CAN- YES WE MUST! This logo always rings in my ears.

My personal life has changed drastically as a result of my collaboration with Gender Links. My daughter who was only 9 years old in 2013 looked at me like a heroine. I was applauded in the Council for the good job, which was not only about appreciation for the work we had done, but it also made our Council known in all the SADC Countries. It was really a girl’s dream coming true.

Now I know that I must strive and strive until we succeed. There is so much that has been done, and there is much more to be done. The work for gender equality never stops; it is an on-going process. Even if women are educated and independent, they face many controversies in their daily life related to their gender. It is an on-going battle, like the lamp fighting with the wind.

My own personal progress as well as the work within our council would not have been possible without the support and help of my immediate superior, who believed in my capabilities and me. Guiding me around and giving me the opportunity to present the project. I cannot stop thanking Mr. Yetty the Mayor, all Municipal Councillors and Mr. Nandaj Dayal, the CEO of the Municipal Council of Vacoas Phoenix. No person is an island. Nothing can be done alone. It is teamwork. At the Municipal Council of Vacoas Phoenix all the staff have worked together, and it is this team spirit which makes it possible for us to accomplish so much.

We have come a long way, but we still have a huge challenge in changing the midsets of people. Everyone needs to understand that gender is not a women’s issue, but it concerns everyone. In the rural areas particularly, cultural problems are deeply rooted, and we have a lot to do to solve the issues women face. Despite women having been able to reach the moon, there still are many women in this world who are being beaten and others molested or killed. We must continue striving for the better of all, and work together for the betterment of every human irrespective of their gender.




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