Botswana: Govt Makes Strides in Women Empowerment
Letlhakeng — Botswana has made some bold changes through institutionalisation of gender in both public and civil society sectors.
Officiating at the International Women's Day in Ditshegwane March 7, Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Mr Edwin Batshu said such has resulted in the transformation that is demonstrated by continuous legal and administrative reforms, thereby affording women and men equality before the law.
He cited reforms such as the Deeds Registry Act of 2013 that allows women to have immovable property registered in their names, the Domestic Violence Act of 2008 and its regulations of 2013 that recognise domestic violence, which is common among women as a crime as well as legalising abortion resulting from rape, defilement or incest within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
"Our 50 years of independence have also seen us being bold enough to empower women to assume leadership positions including their appointment into key positions such as cabinet, Parliament, Ntlo-ya-Dikgosi as well as executive positions in the civil service and missions abroad," he said.
Mr Batshu also said that Parliament had recently approved P30 million for the Women Economic Empowerment Programme for the next financial year, an effort he said should facilitate women to start income-generating projects, thereby creating employment for themselves and others.
Mr Batshu said that the socio-economic empowerment of women had potential to capacitate them to bridge the power relations and better participate in decision-making in both the private and public sector.
"Their empowerment should also accord them economic independence and minimise their vulnerability to gender based violence as well as HIV transmission," he said.
Mr Batshu further said that his ministry had strengthened engagement with dikgosi, resulting in notable achievement through development of Dikgosi National Actin Plan for Mainstreaming Gender into Customary Justice System.
Mr Batshu also assured women of government's commitment to gender equality and women empowerment and encouraged them to also explore their potential through taking bold steps to transform undesirable situations that may exist in their lives.
He also recognised contributions made by various stakeholders including development partners such as the United Nations, European Union and the government of the United States of America as well as the civil society in delivering the National Gender Programme.
Detailing the objectives of the day, permanent secretary in the ministry, Ms Banny Molosiwa said they were to recognise the role that women play in the society.
"Throughout the years women have contributed significantly to the growth of our society, starting from the household level, and therefore it is only fitting to celebrate them as well as to note the challenges that they go through," she said.
Ms Molosiwa however said that women still have a problem of underestimating their strength, which makes them to always concede to men for leadership positions, especially in politics.
She also revealed that her ministry also celebrates other days such as International Men's Day, Fifteen Days of Activism Against Violence on Women and Children.
In his vote of thanks, area MP, Mr Ngaka Ngaka appreciated government for empowering women such as initiatives meant to assist them start businesses, and urged women to take advantage of such initiatives.
He also revealed that women in his constituency were always willing to make an effort to emancipate themselves from poverty and inequality, citing their involvement in farming.
This year's day was commemorated under the theme; Be Bold For Change.
By Olekantse Sennamose