Saturday, November 28, 2020

BOCOBONET response to SONA on gender equality

The Botswana Community Based Organisations Network BOCOBONET is an umbrella organisation made up of 130 affiliate CBOs Nationwide.

Most of these are Community Trusts engaged in Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) activities.

We have identified a missing link in efforts by Government and other stakeholders in the fight against Gender Based Violence in general and Intimate Partner Violence in particular. The missing link is a grassroots engagement of communities in a bid to have individuals talk and open up on issues of power and violence in intimate relationships. The Government of Botswana, as expressed in the SONA, continues to focus on policies that seek to empower women.

The establishment of the Women Economic Empowerment Program that is aimed at “strengthening the participation of women in National economic activities” is also a welcome development. We also do recognise the work being done to pass the Sex offenders bill, fast tracking of GBV cases and the establishment of 12 district gender committees countrywide.

BOCOBONET is also encouraged by the fact that the Botswana Police has already embarked on training their personnel on GBV handling that will end in April 2021 with the establishment of a Gender and Child protection unit. We have observed that most interventions being put in place are responses to the phenomenon after the ill deeds had already been committed. Even though the anti GBV drive seems to enjoy public support, incidents of intimate partner violence continue to occur in private quarters.

The cases continue to grow in both frequency and gruesomeness. This then clearly shows that there is a missing link to complete all the efforts by various stakeholders throughout the decades to put a stop to the epidemic.

Having observed how difficult it has been for communities to change norms that lead to violence against women, we conducted research on GBV interventions worldwide and came to the conclusion that the SASA! Methodology created by Raising Voices, an NGO in Uganda was the best for us in Botswana.

The Methodology, implemented by more than 60 organizations – including NGOs, governments, UN agencies and faith-based groups in over 20 countries aims to change social norms by addressing the imbalance of power between women and men, a key driver of violence against women. Raising Voices collaborated with three partner organizations to study the adaptation of the methodology to suit different contexts.

Please contact us for more information on our activities. We have begun training volunteers to close the missing link by using the SASA! technics to make them worthy change agents. The existence of structures put in place by the Government of Botswana therefore presents us with relevant and effective platforms for our community action groups to share the grassroots model of change with. We have also engaged with the media and are planning to hold brief workshops with them on “Reporting in a manner to end GBV”.

We are confident that even though experiencing the worst of its extent, the political will power, individual and collaborative efforts are enough to finally win the war against GBV. It has been done, so yes it can be done. #RekaKgona ###

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