South Africa: Now my husband and I respect each other

Date: November 18, 2015
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Blouberg, South Africa, 19 November, 2015: My first day attending a Gender Links (GL) workshop was so difficult because I was one of the victims. I thought I did not have any problem but at the end of the Gender Links workshop I discovered that I do have a problem. I was heartbroken and I cried. They asked us to write our own stories. I could not stand in front of a lot people but they guided me to be independent and have self-confidence.

There were a lot of stages in the training and now I can assist people who have problems or even direct them to relevant institutions. Talking to them made it easier to advice and guide them to the correct path.

At the moment I own a business which was made possible because I was taught how to start my own business and ways to run it. I am also part of a support group for a woman which was started by me. I recruited the women by going around and telling them what we are going to discuss in the support group and the fact that there will be projects that will benefit them. All this was possible because of Gender Links. At this moment I am independent and I can stand in front of a crowd and talk to them.

I was one of those who have been nominated to attend a Gender Links summit and it was a good thing because I learnt a lot about how other people tackle their issues. I have also learnt a lot of things from people who attended the summit.

I started attending the training in November 2013 and attended all the workshops. I found all the training useful and was not disappointed with any of it. The main challenge was when we were doing business calculations. I struggled but now I can do the calculations because I own a business now and can apply what I was taught.

Before I attended the GL workshops I was doing nothing except for going to work. I am now running my own business and also involved in a women support group tackling challenges they are facing. The programme helped me a lot.

I experienced violence from my husband but I am not experiencing any violence at the moment because I can now stand up against it. Things have changed because I can talk, stand up for myself and I know what is suitable for me.

We respect each other, he is also helping whenever it is necessary and we are now happy at home. Yes, the link is that a lot of women depend on their partners and that is why these days’ women have their own businesses so that they do not depend on their partners.

My experience changed and influenced the lives of other people. Talking about violence has also helped in changing other people’s perspective. People look at me differently and we have been able to run a lot of projects.

My actions have changed my own life because I can now stand for myself, solving problems by talking to my partner in a civil manner. We now have new ways of doing things like adults. We have now agreed that we have to eat supper as family and that will create a bond. As I was guided by the social workers and Gender Links I can now refer people to any one of them.

I have learnt that in life one should not ignore important things, thinking that things will get better, while it is not the case. I have also learned that one has to be independent and not rely on other people for assistance.

I am prepared to share the knowledge that I have with other people so that they can benefit as I have benefited.

My future plans is to own a huge business that will employ people in the community especially the youth who have matriculated. My main aim is to assist them to reach their goal of saving up towards their post matric education and also to employ part time those who have already enrolled with institutions of higher learning during their school holidays.

By 2030 I want to be amongst a woman who owns successful businesses.

I would like to see Gender Links continue to assist women of South Africa especially in rural areas as there is a lot of hidden violence there. People in rural areas are afraid to speak out as they do not want other people to know about their affairs. I like giving advice to people, especially women, because in most cases they are the ones who become victims of abuse.

What I have learned from Gender Links is so significant. Please keep it up.

(Choekoe Rejoyce Motlabaile is a participant in the GL Empowering Women, Ending Violence programme in South Africa. This article is part of a special Gender Links News Service Series for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day).


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