Zubeida Raphael – Botswana

Zubeida Raphael – Botswana

Date: January 20, 2014
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Women and men must work hard to see that GBV is ended, in order for us to have a happy and healthy nation. I am a councillor in Boswelatlou ward at the Lobatse town council, and I am also a BALA woman gender committee commissioner. My job is to coordinate all council activities, and I’m responsible for the development and monitoring of government policies, and for assessing the efforts that people are making to develop, and from there look for ways that they can be assisted.

My first encounter with Gender Links was at a workshop held at a Big 5 lodge, in which they sensitized us about GBV. The facilitators were Colleen and Pamela. At that time, it was not easy to get through to the people because most people did not have a basic understanding of the issues. The media informed us that women always shy away from being interviewed, which is part of why their voices are always silent. At the time, I wondered just how I will be able to take the topic of GBV to men, without making them think that I am against them.

When I first met Gender Links it was when they came to sensitise people about gender issues. One thing that impressed me was just how organised their approach was and I knew then that I had a future with them. At first, it was difficult to get through to people; but gradually, it all became easier when we started going around councils and teaching people about GBV. Slowly, men started to realise that GBV is not about making a woman the head of a family but it is something that affects the community and needs to be addressed urgently.

My light bulb moment was when I was given a vote of thanks at the national Gender Justice summit; I felt very proud when I realized I was really part of making change happen in the country.

Being the women’s commissioner at BALA has given me a lot of publicity, and I am now in a position to reach people at all levels of life. Working with Gender Links has really made me a new person; people have elected me, so they must see some leadership qualities in me. This gives me the confidence to use my skills and exposure to mobilize people. I can really make change happen because now I take advantage of every public gathering or pitso and bring up the subject of GBV to try and get the message across.

GL has educated me on issues of GBV; they showed me that it is real and it is happening in normal families. Importantly, they gave me tools to address both men and women on the issue of GBV. The way GL explained the issues to me really helped me understand how I was connected to GBV; it forced me to ask myself what I am doing to stop GBV in my country, and see where I can make a difference.

GL has definitely boosted my public speaking skills, and given me a positive attitude towards me work. Through our collaboration, I’ve learned how to counsel people with emotional abuse. Now I can help to bring change to men and women who have been victims of abuse. We interact, and share ideas on the way forward, to help everyone move on. Through counseling I’ve provided, I’m proud to say that there are a number of families that i have helped regain stability, and get along better.



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