The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) parliamentary candidate for Gaborone Bonnington North, Anna Motlhagodi, says her party is so intent on women’s issues that it would sign the South African Development Community (SADC) Gender protocol should it be elected into power on October 24.
Speaking at the rally to mark the end of the party’s ‘Re a fenya’ bus campaign on Saturday at Gaborone Secondary School grounds, Motlhagodi said refusal of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party to sign the protocol shoes that it does not take women’s issues seriously.
“We are the only party in Botswana that has 30 per cent women representation that the SADC countries agreed upon,” she said.
“BDP’s number, on the other hand, has been deteriorating over the past few years. In 2008 there were eight women in parliament, of which only four formed the cabinet. Ever since the beginning of the Khama regime the number of women dropped to only three.”
She added that the BCP is so committed that even in the current arrangement women standing for political office under its ticket are given 25 per cent discount for registering.
Motlhagodi said the first-past-the-post election system the Botswana government does not want to quit thwarts every effort of women empowerment in as far as political representation is concerned.
She said in other countries with mature democracies, the proportional representation is utilized and women are well represented.
She bemoaned the fact that refusal to sign the SADC gender protocol is in a way extending women’s hardships.
Other than the political representation, homesteads headed by females form a higher percentage of those living below the poverty datum line, she said, hence the BCP’s decision to immediately sign the SADC protocol once they get into power.
Contacted for comment on the SADC protocol, one of Botswana’s women activists, politicians and the first woman Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Margaret Nasha, said she would only have time to speak after elections as she was preparing for the next parliament.
Dr. Nasha said there was need for sufficient time when it comes to the protocol.
Briefly, some of the objectives of the protocol are: “that all women will hold 50 percent of decision making positions in the private and public sector by 2015; Revision, amendment and report by 2015 of all sex or gender discriminatory laws by 2015; ensuring equal participation of women and men in economic policy formulation and implementation by 2015; adoption of integrated approaches to reduce gender-based violence by 2015.”