Government’s latest poverty alleviation program, Ipelegeng, has been dismissed as an exploitative and enslaving initiative that only perpetuates a situation in which Botswana women continue to labour under the clutches of low pay and poverty.
When it was first established, the program was described by government as a labour intensive public works program that is aimed at creating employment and providing income to low-income groups with a source of income.
But the Secretary of the Women’s Affairs Committee in the Botswana Congress Party, Tshepho Lempoetse, said that government’s initiatives are unfounded and especially demeaning at a time when the rest of the world commemorates 16 days of activism against violence on women and children.
She accused the ruling party of disregarding the empowerment of local women organizations, like Emang Basadi and others, saying that it is proof of the BDP government’s exploitation of women, where they are only used for amassing votes during elections.
The 16 days of activism against gender violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. It runs annually without fail from the 25th of November till the 10th of December.
According to Rutgers, the Center for Women’s Global leadership, the 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women, by raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels. The campaign also seeks to strengthen local work around violence against women, establish a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women, demonstrate the solidarity of women around the world, organize against violence against women, and create tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women.
“The BDP continues to reject calls to change Botswana’s electoral system to Mixed-Member Proportional Representation, which has been proved to increase women representation in political office,” said Lempoetse.
“The BCP youth league is aware of the tears of the mother of John Kalafatis, which we sadly witnessed at the funeral of her beloved son. We are also aware of the pain felt by Bontle Osupile, whose child was murdered this year under mysterious circumstances. These two women are still unhappy with the government’s underhanded dealings, which perpetuate violence against women,” she added.
Lempoetse revealed that the BCP’s manifesto aims to promote and sustain equality between men and women, adults and youth and among the different ethnic groups in the country. It also seeks to strengthen legal instruments to protect women; facilitate the economic participation of women; strengthen health services for women; make education and training more accessible to women; promote political participation of women; and work towards the establishment of an anti-sexist society.