Source: Botswana Daily News

Gaborone — There is need to change strategies aimed at improving women's representation in decision making as current ones are not yielding desired results, says Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Ms Annah Mokgethi. 

She said this at the recent launch of a Democracy Works Foundation Capacity Enhancement for Political Advancement of Women (CEPAW) project in Gaborone.

Minister Mokgethi said her ministry was concerned about the low representation of women across all levels of decision making.

The ministry, she noted, collaborated with civil society on public education and capacity building of women including those vying for political office but females continued to be marginalised.

As a result, they continued to be in the minority at negotiation tables across all levels of life, Ms Mokgethi said.

The minister said although Botswana had made progress in improving the status of women, inequality within the political sphere persisted.

In addition, she said women continued to face various socio-economic, cultural and political plights.

Absence of women at decision making levels had a bearing on governance as their views, challenges, needs and opinions were not adequately represented, she said.

Ms Mokgethi said it was therefore imperative that society reflected on ways and means of improving the situation.

She expressed gratitude to Botswana's civil society for commitment in undertaking capacity building initiatives to empower women in an endeavor to motivate and encourage them to compete for political office.

Quoting a 2018 Emang Basadi study entitled "Mme o kae?" (where is the woman?), Ms Mokgthi said there were several impediments to women's participation in politics, especially competition for elections.

Ms Mokgethi said a major factor was multiple roles of women while others were lack of deliberate measures to promote women's participation and societal expectations on women.

Yet another factor, the minister said, was limited opportunities for women to network across party lines which denied them the strength of collective bargaining and influence needed to realise the desired change.

US ambassador Mr Craig Cloud said women in Botswana excelled in corporate, judicial and entrepreneurship roles but not in politics.

He therefore appealed for empowerment of women and promotion of their representation in the political space.

Democracy Works Foundation official Dr Augustine Magolowondo explained that CEPAW, a one-year project, was designed to increase the role and influence of women in decision making and within political institutions in Botswana.

The aim was to engender at understanding that women's political participation in Botswana required mindset change, he said.

Dr Magolowondo said CEPAW had adopted a multi-pronged implementation strategy that would enable the programme to address factors and barriers that discouraged women from participating in political processes and decision making.

It would target women already in politics, both in elected positions and ordinary members, as well as those outside mainstream politics but interested or have potential to take an active role in political processes, he said.

The project was launched under the theme, "Go Ruta Mosadi ke go Ruta Sechaba," (if you educate a woman, you educate a nation).

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