Shyamla Ramdoyal – Mauritius

Shyamla Ramdoyal – Mauritius

Date: May 29, 2012
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I was one of very few women to sit on our District Council in Flaq. Unfortunately my mandate was only for one year, but I am still a Village Councillor. Not only do I make sure that women, men and children live in a clean and safe environment, but I make it a point to get women interested in male dominated fields. Over and above my political work, I am also the Director of  the SKY-Ram Company, and have bought lorries to transport materials to build roads. I am the one who deals with companies to get the best contracts.

After only the second day of the workshop on Gender and Local Government, I realised that Mauritius has a major problem. We have so few women in politics. I started networking with other councillors regarding our common problems and how our voices were not heard. We talked about the low participation of women in politics and how women are sidelined in localities. The glass ceiling is really present; a woman has never become the Chairperson of the District Council. The closest they have reached is Vice Chairperson.

By the last day of the workshop, I really felt empowered. We were taking a few things for granted, and did not realise that there were problems in the region. We learnt a lot about HIV and AIDS especially as it relates to gender; I also learned a lot about the different forms of gender violence. During the workshop, we prepared a Gender Action Plan. After the Mauritian Workshop ended, I had the opportunity to form part of a delegation of councillors to attend a workshop in Johannesburg where a training manual was developed.

I consider myself very lucky, as I was among the very few women in Mauritius who have formed part of women’s history. In 2008, I formed part of the Mauritian Delegation to attend a Gender Links Workshop on the SADC Protocol. This has empowered me so much that I took it on myself to organise two workshops in my villages. I used the Local Government Training Manual and also talked about the Protocol, which was in its early stage.

In 2010, I started to work with the Minister of Infrastructure as a Constituency Clerk. This is a male dominated job and I was quite surprised when the Minister asked me to do the job. The training that I got from Gender Links helped me to affirm myself. GL strengthened my communication skills, and in this role I need to talk to people a lot, and know their problems. I have met quite a few women who have experienced GBV. My training with Gender Links has helped me to talk to them. I know where to send them for support. Being a Councillor and doing this job has made me realise that there are more women than men who need help, and thanks to Gender Links I know how to help them.

One of the most terrifying experiences I’ve had at work was when I needed Loga Virahsawmy to facilitate a workshop for a few villages in Flacq. When I asked her to come I found out she was traveling at the time, and I thought I might have to cancel everything at the 11th hour. However, she invited me to her office, where I got a copy of the training manual, and some guidelines on how to facilitate a workshop. At the time I was very unhappy, but ultimately I am glad that this happened as I proved to myself that I can facilitate workshops.

I really started to grow after these Gender Links workshops; I had the chance to travel with Loga to several workshops in different localities. This growth has helped me to become a good Director of Companies. GL training is a full package and the media literacy skills and leadership training has helped me to become what I am today. Now, after a Gender Links representative went to see the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Public Infrastructure regarding a workshop in his constituency, he called me and asked me to organise the workshop. It was a great opportunity to organize everything from beginning to end. I selected the participants, looked for the venue, transport for participants and catering. I also found a free place for GL facilitators. GL helped four villages of Flacq to develop a GBV Action Plan. I hope that GL works with these four villages to make sure that their plans are being implemented.

I aspire to be a model in my community. Gender Links has encouraged me to be innovative; one thing I really appreciated in their workshop methodology was the role playing element. I loved seeing the faces of men when I asked them if they were in charge of kindergartens, how they would hold babies, change nappies and give bottles to babies. The look on their faces was revealing, and I realized how effective these different methods were for learning. I took on the challenge of organising a football match with different villages. I looked for sponsorship for track suits and other football gear for the players.



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