What could be the reason our national transformation team has less women?

07 Jul 2019

BY VICTOR BAATWENG

President Mokgweetsi Masisi this week announced the national transformation team led by economist and banker – Moatlhodi Sebabole.

It was refreshing to read from the state owned newspaper – Dailynews that Sebabole has been appointed as the chairman of the team.

We therefore pause for a moment to congratulate Sebabole and wish him well in this rather difficult yet attainable task of transforming this nation’s economic fortunes.

While Sebabole’s appointment could serve as a motivation to the youthful populace of this country, the number of women (not more than 5) could dole out the opposite to aspiring women leaders in this country. For the sake of those who might not have heard, the 17 member transformational team only has 5 women in it. The rest are men of course.

To some cohort in our society, the appointment of less than five women to such a special and important committee whose membership is close to 20 could be a sign of mistrust in the women of this country by the President. We may be wrong with this thought but what good reason can the President advance for having appointed two-third of the committee as men? Infact a further look at the average age of the team also shows that except for the chairperson – Sebabole, most of the members are nearing retirement and thus old. Shouldn’t we be giving the young blood an opportunity to build this nation for the future generations?

At this point in time, without any good explanation from the Office of the President one would not blame those who could come up and call the appointment an act of discrimination against women (and youth). One would call this discrimination with certainty because we strongly believe that there are many women (and youth) in Botswana who are equally competent to sit on that team and deliver the desired results.

The last time we checked Botswana was counted amongst the countries that has more women leaders in the corporate space. Where are these women and why has the Office of President decided to exclude them from the transformational team? The President and who-ever helped him pick up the transformational team should have kept in mind that it is critical that everyone – men and women alike – feel like they belong to this country and are given equal opportunity to work towards building it.  As a nation we should get really worried when decisions like this are made because they have the potential to reserve the little progress that we have made when it comes to creating an equal society. One also has to note that whilst progression has been made, women are still severely underrepresented in leadership roles in our country. If anyone doubt this then they should look no further than the upcoming general elections. All the political parties have more men (old men) as candidates and have made no attempt to ensure that atleast half of them are women. As it stands, we have more men than women battling out in the political arena and this should be good reason enough to give women space to lead in other platforms such as the national transformational team.

One also ought to remind the nation that given the global trends, when it comes to leadership, any country that fails to tap the huge potential of women is certainly going to be a poorer country than it would otherwise have been. This is certainly not what the President or anyone of us wants for Botswana. At the end of the day, the President and his appointment advisors should know that small actions such as appointment of a transformational team can make a big difference.

The days when gender imbalance in leadership positions was order of the day should be left in the past. We are at a point of development where we need women to belong equally.  While we are not calling for any sort of special favouritism or treatment to women, the #Bottomline is that competent Batswana women can and should be architects of this country’s transformative age. They have been left behind for too long, thanks largely to Patriarchy.