Thato Mokuena -Senekane Council COE

Thato Mokuena -Senekane Council COE

Date: June 30, 2015
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I work at the Senekane Local Council, where I oversee a number of departments, including road construction, water services, health sector service, and markets in my council. I ensure that the allocations of jobs is done in accordance with principles of gender equality. If there is a job which needs to be done, I draw up a list of the names. Then I find out how many are female and how many are male. Then I allocate an equal number of both sexes to the job. When I am dealing with the tendering process, I apply the same principle. We get construction and catering tenders, and we focus on gender when we allocate these in the council.

I have seen great changes in men. In the past, men thought that as the head of the family, they were the only ones who were supposed to take up formal employment. However, they have come to understand that women can take up formal employment as much as they can. I have seen that men now understand that if women are empowered, it does not mean that men’s cultural position will be compromised. In the past, many men believed that women wanted to undermine their authority. Now, they are starting to see that all jobs can be shared and done equally by men and women. This is what I endeavour to practise in my line of work at the council.

Despite this great change in attitude, I have to say that there are still some who hold on to their cultural beliefs. That is a challenge that we face. Some men still believe that as the head of the family, they have all the power in their families. There are some women who believe that they cannot take up leadership positions in the community. The women are shy, and afraid to be in decision making positions.

I believe that women should be more empowered. My attitudes have changed, because now I can see the impact of women in decision making positions. I have also seen the changes that women can make in decision making positions, even though they are not many. I have seen changes in my close relatives. They now know more about gender issues.

At the community level, I always facilitate public gatherings for local council meetings, since I am a Councillor. I always try to tell people about the SADC Gender Protocol meetings. I have seen increased involvement of women in economic initiatives.

My council has changed how they do things. They used to think that only men could work in the donga or in construction, but now women are taking part in construction, and men are taking part in catering.

Gender Links has taught me a lot of things which I never knew to be part of my job within the council. I was taught about climate change, IT, and gender budgeting among other things; and this is in addition to gender equality and justice. These have greatly changed how I work in my professional and personal life. There are many skills that I have gained working with GL. For example, the cyber dialogues have enabled me to network with other organisations. I enjoyed the cyber dialogue during the 16 days of activism. I could chat with many people about gender, but at the end of the day, we ended up networking. I have also been trained as part of their training of trainers. I have attended and participated in the Leadership awards last year. This year I competed for the women’s rights award.

The person who has really driven this change in me is Mme Malipota, though she has passed on. She is the person who trained and worked with us in the council. Whenever we had any issues with gender, we would go to her. Currently, I would say that working with Mme Ntolo has been fruitful as we fight to ensure that there is gender equality and justice in the council and community at large.

I look forward to standing for the national elections, so that I can be involved in policy making.

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