Tunatazama - Community Monitors

Sisters doing it for themselves

Olebogeng Motene and Frieda Subklew-Sehume

Under the heading “Together we can”, we ventured into a discovery and tested our gender concepts, understandings, values and beliefs. Scheduled for the end of July, the gathering involved over 60 community monitors and facilitators from South Africa and 5 from the continent. It was the first ever workshop of the Bench Marks Foundation focusing specifically on Gender. We are putting on our gender lenses to take on a different perspective on our work in the mining and extractivism fields, especially regarding the impact on women from mining affected communities. We hope that we will plant the seeds to change the hearts and the mindsets. 

The workshop objectives outlined included the following:

  • strengthening our gender competencies through a deeper understanding of gender concepts reflecting on our work in communities;
  • our shortcomings and what we want to do differently going forward strengthening the cooperation in the Community Monitoring School programme;
  • reigniting the African connection between different Monitoring Schools of the Tunatazama Network; and
  • creating brief communication products from our reflections and learnings that can strengthen gender sensitivity and empowerment in our work in mining affected communities.

The workshop used many creative tools to get participants to delve deep into themselves. One particular approach helped participants to reflect on how being born male or female has shaped their lives. We also looked at how work is split between men and women and which values are attached to different types of work. Furthermore, we explored gender via the symbol of the three-legged pot representing culture, religion and our constitution. And proverbs helped us engage with our cultural values.

Participants engaged with the question of power and interrogated what it means to be a leader and what the leadership of women or what would feminist leadership could look like?

No workshop in the world is complete without delving into the scourge of violence of men / or gender based violence. What action plans and strategies are out there and how do those in need access them? Are they effective? How can building the power of women’s organisations assist in fighting violence against women and improving the role of women in society?

We were creative, singing, making bracelets and having a cross-dressing evening.

Forward to breaking the gender ceiling at Bench Marks ???? Stronger together!