Zambia: Bianca Chishala

Zambia: Bianca Chishala

Date: April 13, 2016
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I currently live in Mufulira District of the copper belt province of Zambia. I got the information about Gender Links programme through a lady in the saloon and I decided to attend. It was after the workshop that I saw the essence of me being part of the team. I attended all the three phases. Sharing my GBV experience was the most memorable experience of the training because for a long time I had kept it as a secret. I had never shared my experience with any one not even my sister.

I started my business just after completing my secondary Education. By then I went to keep up with my sister in South Africa. Whilst there, I started buying clothes and bringing them to Zambia for sale. With time, my sister bought me desk tops for sale in Zambia the reason for her doing that was to help me raise funds for my tertiary education. Whilst in Zambia doing my business, I reconnected with my child hood boyfriend and we restarted our relationship. I thought my boyfriend meant well for me when he suggested that I start living with him to cut on lodging costs and that he will give me money so as to help me pay my school fees.

After a few months of being together, I fell pregnant and we decided to formalise our marriage. During the time that I was pregnant, I would mostly fall sick, and took time off from my business. I had so much trust in my husband that I entrusted him with everything and gave him all my pin numbers for all my bank cards. During the time that I was sick, my husband would withdraw money from my accounts and spend it on his girlfriends without my knowledge. By the time I was recovering and ready to continue with my business, my husband had withdrawn every coin from my account. This was the beginning of our problems because I felt he had crossed his boundaries in my life. We would always fight over petty issues. As if that was not enough, he even left me for another woman. Life was not easy especially after I just gave birth. My family was so disappointed with me that they stopped helping me as they felt I was to blame for every problem I was facing. After realising his mistakes, my husband decided to come back and we started on a different page.

There has been a very big difference in my life due to the programme. I did not know my rights as a woman. I would always live in fear. Every time my husband abused me, I would do nothing about it despite the fact that it used to hurt. I feared that I would be divorced and would have nowhere to go to. But I now know my rights and I am able to negotiate for safer sex, I also object where I feel my rights as a woman are infringed. I now openly tell my husband that if he feels I am not worth his love, he can simply leave me other than subjecting me to further abuse because I now feel I can stand on my own as I am economically empowered. Unlike the time when I feared to leave the abusive marriage as I wondered where I would go if I left him. I have also learnt about record keeping, stock taking, marketing, calculating my expenses and Pricing my goods. Because then, I would not consider the cost of bringing goods to the point of sale as an expense. I could not take note of whatever sales I made, as such I would not determine the profits that I was making. All these topics have been useful to me because I am currently running my business on the learnt principles and my business is booming.

In my family the change is seen in the way my husband treats me. He no longer scolds me or even lays a hand on me no matter how much I offend him. We just resolve our differences through dialogue. He now makes sure the family does not lack any thing and even pays school fees on time. Because of his support I am now able to focus my attention on my business. This has greatly contributed to my business growing. My close relations now believe in me because I have been able to restart my business. And my marriage life has been restored.

To those that are close to me in the community, I have always sung to them the song of Women empowerment as the only way to go by encouraging them to venture in to small businesses to supplement their husbands’ income for I strongly feel there is a link between Economic empowerment and Gender Based Violence. My dream by 2030 is to create employment to a number of women in Chililabombwe.