Emily Tjale has truly taken the bull by the horns when it comes to championing the protection of essential human rights in a wide range of areas. She has been raising the roof for healthcare, farming, environmental justice, legal issues, and land restitution.

By Noko Mashilo

Following her departure from the nursing profession, Emily Tjale has become a prominent advocate for the protection of essential human rights in diverse areas, including healthcare, farming, environmental justice, legal issues, and land restitution.

In numerous remote and underdeveloped areas, many women and young girls rely on her as a courageous advocate who persistently works towards bringing about transformative progress.

Through her organisation, Women Together in Development, located in Ntwane village in Sekhukhune, Limpopo, where she serves as the coordinator, Mme Emily, as she is affectionately known, is responsible for overseeing the successful completion of projects and events such as workshops, dialogues, and roundtable discussions.

Her duties include managing team members within the organisation and ensuring that it maintains positive relationships with funders and stakeholders.

Women Together in Development was officially registered in 2010. Since then, the organisation has been actively cultivating organic produce to enhance food security and provide nutritious meals to those in need.

“We also work as caregivers and farmers to provide food for our families. Perhaps that is why I won the Emerging Farmer Award under the Food Sovereignty category in Brazil in 2012 for using original seeds instead of chemicals when farming.”

Mme Emily also said she trains people on the art of presenting bills to the government portfolio committee: “I prepare people to speak in parliament, more especially in policy making. It could be oral or written submissions.”

She mentioned that her team has accomplished several achievements. These include successfully appointing two female council members to the tribal authority, providing care for 12 elderly women through their own caregivers, and taking responsibility for Morwathebe Combined School to ensure students receive the necessary support to stay in school until they complete high school.

Emily is also a judicial officer who sits with a judge to determine the facts of a case involving a person charged with an offence: “I began this role in 1995 at the district court, and I have since advanced to the regional court.

“I ensure that our team comprehends court procedures. Some people are frightened and end up confessing to things they did not do. 

“I analyse the facts and factors of the case until we reach a fair judgment,” said Emily.

This well-travelled activist who just returned from Ghana after serving as an international moderator during the revival of Women Land Link Africa last month. 

“We were implementing strategic plans with women leaders from different parts of Africa. These women represent those who have no power. They speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. They have the opportunity to share their concerns on a global platform. 

“Next year in March, we are going to New York for the Commission on the Status of Women. In April, we will be in Turkey for the Global Grassroots Congress,” said Emily.

In May, she attended the Global Land Forum in Jordan, and in October, she participated in the AU/African Union event in Maputo to celebrate International Rural Women’s Day, which occurs every 15 of October.

“I was tasked with preparing a declaration and presenting it on the final day before the AU Commission,” she said.

She spent the first week of December at Braamfontein Sturrock Park, the Wits Sports Conference venue, during the Rural Women Assembly that covered the Southern African Development Community. Part of the agenda included a seed exhibition, as well as teaching and sharing of ideas among rural women from different countries.

“This is where I learnt to understand the needs of women and the problems of land.” If you fail to execute a programme, join other women because there is power in working together,” said Emily.

Emily mentioned that, like many around the world, they were unprepared for Covid-19. However, they are grateful for the solutions implemented to prevent the pandemic, despite its disruption of many women’s projects.

“I am glad there were precautions such as Vax Champs who educated and promoted vaccination to friends, family members, and neighbours.”

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