Zubeida Raphael – Botswana

Zubeida Raphael – Botswana

Date: January 20, 2014
  • SHARE:

I am a ward councilor from Lobatse, and was also elected as the women’s commission coordinator last year. In this role, I work very closely with Gender Links. When the organization first came to Botswana, they were doing a trial project on certain councils. From there, they have penetrated many councils in local government. These councils form a committee of women to be their mouthpiece in the councils. So this is the capacity in which we work together.

I started working with Gender Links just when they were beginning to work with local government in Botswana. I was in their first workshop, which was held with the CEOs of the councils, mayors, council chairpersons, permanent secretaries, and so on. I really so how they struggled to get access, and mobilize people to change the mindsets of both men and women. In the beginning, I could really see that men didn’t understand what was meant by gender. They misunderstood the entire conversation about GBV and gender. They thought it was something about women wanting to be men, or be in control of everything.

A key breakthrough in the gender discussion took place by working with BALA. Everyone worked very hard, going from council to council, and a women’s commission could explain to the men, and also to the women, what gender based violence is about. They conducted workshops, seminars, and interviews in the community. It took time, and persistence, but slowly, we have found that people are opening to the message.

When I look today, I can see that the work of Gender Links in Botswana has really grown. I tell myself that we have climbed the highest mountain, and we are now up there, able to look back and see how we have managed to pass so many obstacles.

For me personally, Gender Links has played a big role in educating me as a councilor. They held so many workshops both about gender, but also about skills that I need to be effective. For example, about local government, transparency, communication, and working with media. Now I tell myself that I am educated, and motivated. I understand how to mobilize women, and how to talk with women. I am now more educated about issues that concern women, and I know how to bring these issues in front of both men and women.

One real benefit of working with Gender Links has been the tools they have given us to deal with GBV in the area. The approach is very holistic. Now I understand how to work with the police force and hospitals. But not only that, I understand how to reach people through churches, community meetings, and village development committees and disseminate information. It takes a lot of different approaches to reach so many different people and organizations. These organizations are our hands to reach the community. It’s not easy to encourage women to come forward and put things on the table. It takes a lot of courage for a women to say ‘help me, this is what I’m going through.’ But what makes me happy is that we are seeing results now. It means we are achieving something.

We have a range of different challenges, but we’re still making progress. Sometimes, it seems like reaching people with different mindsets can be a challenge. But we are finding that the community interaction is very good. Mobilizing people is no problem; we have developed enough trust in the community that if people are called, they know that it is for a good purpose, and that the message will be valuable to them.

My wish for the future is that we continue working together to bring down the issue of gender based violence. As a woman politician, I’d like to continue to grow, so that even after I leave my position as a councilor, my knowledge will not follow me home and sleep there. Everything I learn should bring me to other spaces, and teach others to move forward. We need to see women and men working together; then, we’ll be changing lives.


Comment on Zubeida Raphael – Botswana

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *