Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Botswana still lagging behind in women’s representation in politics- survey

A recent Afrobarometer survey says Botswana still ranks among the worst performing countries in the world in terms of women’s representation in political decision-making positions.

Women hold just 11 percent of parliamentary and 16 percent of ministerial positions.

“This disparity has persisted despite overwhelming popular support for gender equality at the
ballot box. Almost nine out of 10 Batswana (86%) ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that women
should have the same chance as men to be elected to public office; only 13% say that men
make better political leaders and should thus be elected instead of women (Figure 7).
Women are somewhat more likely than men to endorse equality in politics (89% vs. 84%),
while 26- to 45-year-olds express the highest levels of support (88%-89%) for this view,” the report says.

Afrobarometer says majority (63%) of citizens are optimistic that a woman and her family will gain standing in the community if she runs for elected office (Figure 8). The report says at least four in 10 also consider it “somewhat likely” or “very likely” that she will be criticized, called names, or harassed by others in the community (43%) and that she will face problems with her family (40%).

The report also says fewer half (42%) of Batswana say the government is doing fairly well or very well in promoting equal rights and opportunities for women, while a majority (56%) disapprove of its performance on this issue.

“Women are less likely than men to praise the government’s efforts on gender equality (40%
vs. 44%), as are respondents with primary or less education (36%-38%) compared to those
with post-secondary qualification (48%). But much larger differences are apparent along
economic lines: Well-to-do citizens (62%) are more than three times as likely as the poor (19%)
to think the government is doing a good job of promoting equal rights, perhaps suggesting
that gains in gender equality are not benefiting all levels of society equally.

More than three-fourths of both men (76%) and women (82%) say the government needs to
increase its efforts to advance women’s rights and opportunities.”

The report says when asked what they consider the most important issue related to women’s rights and gender equality for their government and society to address, six in 10 Batswana (59%) cite gender-based violence (Figure 11). Far fewer, the survey says, would prioritize the lack of women in influential government positions (14%), unequal opportunities or pay in the workplace (13%), unequal property rights (6%), and unequal access to education (4%).

It says women and men offer the same prioritization of these issues.

“For policy makers and activists for women’s rights, these survey findings suggest success in a
number of areas, including educational attainment, financial autonomy, and societal
attitudes toward equal rights in hiring, land ownership, and political leadership.
But they also point to challenges that will require further efforts to achieve gender equality.”

The survey found that alongside support for gender fairness in politics, many Batswana think a woman who runs for office is likely to face criticism, harassment, and family problems – perceptions that may discourage some women from seeking elective office.

“And gender-based violence remains an urgent issue for the government and society to address, according to a majority of citizens. Overall, Batswana offer a solid foundation for further action – eight in 10 say the government needs to do more to promote equal rights and opportunities for women,” the survey says.


Read this week's paper