I met Mathamkaze a.k.a Tammy in Johannesburg September of 2013 along with several other young women, many of whom would become One Billion Rising coordinators. The one thing that struck me about this reserved young woman was that she was a listener. She watched intently as her colleagues talked excitedly and asked question about the campaign and she looked as though she was ruminating on every word. Tammy is a young feminist in Lesotho, and co- founder of the organization called Development and Leadership Centre. This is an organization that supports efforts to end violence against women and girls. She is a thinker and immerses herself in motivational books where she gets powerful insights that she shares daily with her sisters in her daily work. Tammy has had the privilege of being in a coaching and mentorship programme by (Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa) OSISA which has contributed to her growth as a young leader and activist.
Tammy has a degree in Social Work. In her work, she realized that many human rights institutions target young women, but nothing seemed to change for the majority of young women these programmes purported to be assisting. There is still a high rate of unplanned pregnancies and other challenges which render women economically disadvantaged. She volunteered at the Ministry of Gender and took part in a study carried out by the organization called Gender Links which focused on relationships in the rural areas of Lesotho. This motivated her to work harder after she drew observation from the study that there is so much violence against women which happens without being reported.
Tammy also worked for the feminist organization called Women and Law In Southern Africa where she was a gender officer, which exposed her to international spaces and one of the most important courses she took was the Economic Justice short course which gave a powerful touch to her work. This even gave her courage to establish her own organisation that gives her a chance to develop herself and other young women. In her position as a Manager in this institution, she creates an environment where young women take part in development and also capacitate them. In the year 2013 she was part of the leading young women who influenced Women and Law to give a space for young women with disabilities to be sensitized on gender violence and be given chance to share their daily experiences on Women's month and she was one of the core facilitators in that workshop.
Tammy coordinated the One Billion Rising (OBR) Campaign on February 14, with her colleague and sister in the struggle, Lerato. They brought together young women in a celebration of the feminine and to protest Violence against women in song and dance. They also did the Vagina Monologues as part of their activities that day.
Tammy and Lerato took part in the global call to action demanding that the almost 300 girls abducted by a terrorist group (Boko Haram) from Chibok School in Bornou state Nigeria be found and returned safely. they worked with schools and other community groups to urge the Nigerian government , through the Nigerian embassy, to increase efforts to bring back the girls.
To me Tammy is what being "my sister's keeper" is all about. Her sensitive nature and her quiet strength is such an asset to our movement in Southern Africa. Her love for her sisters is transformational and all who meet her come away having experienced how special she is. This blog is to celebrate you Mathamkaze. Thank you for all you are doing for the women of Lesotho and Southern Africa. I bow.
Tammy and Lerato- sisters