By Mosidi Mokaeya
Gender Links Country Director Gomolemo Rasisego said Botswana has made a commitment to domesticate Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5) by 2030 but it is too slow to implement. The 17 SDGs were adopted by member states back in 2000.
Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in conjunction with United Nations hosted media training on Sustainable Development Goals this past Tuesday in Gaborone.
SDG5 calls for member states to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls by 2030. It has nine targets and 13 indicators. Rasisego said the current gender biased local political climate is the main reason behind Botswana’s dismal performance.
According to Rasisego, the time for political reforms is upon the country if it is to achieve the fifth SDG. “The will has to start within political parties before it can be elevated to national level. Our political parties have not yet mainstreamed issues of gender equality into their manifestos. Instead they are hell burnt on both sexes being given equal opportunity. Meanwhile men gain advantage as politics have been their terrain since independence. Women have demonstrated tremendous interest over the years but they lack the financial muscle to carry out decent campaigns compared to their male counterparts,” said Rasisego.
She said Specially Elected Members of Parliament seats can be seen as an advantage to increase the number of women in parliament but they too are male dominated. “We have had 46 Specially Elected MPs since independence, only 14 of them were women. It has not worked to their advantage,” said Rasisego. She said ground-breaking political decisions have to be made to include more women in parliament taking into consideration all their limitations.
She could not over emphasise the need for Botswana to implement the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development which she said was long overdue. “It would be advisable for government to implement SDG5 and SADC Protocol on Gender and Development simultaneously. This would be a positive step to show that indeed the women are represented well at all levels,” she said.
At independence Botswana had no women in parliament. In 1984 one woman trickled into the male dominated space. In 1999 the country had the highest number of women occupying parliamentary seats in history although they were only eight. Currently there are only five women in parliament out of 63 members. Of the five, three were voted in and the other two were specially elected. At local council level there are 100 women and 600 men.
According to a recent study by Gender Links, women still endure gross inequalities in the workplace across industries. “There is still a lot of unpaid women’s work such as in child care and domestic work, though a lot more women do get paid. Discrimination in public decision making still persists. There are some achievements that have been gained considering there are now more girls attending school compared to when the SDGs were adopted 18 years ago,” reads the report.
SDG5 calls on countries to ensure that there is equal representation of women in parliament. Pressure is mounting on Botswana from United Nations to demonstrate the implementation on the said goal by domesticating it and walking the talk especially in politics. The set target is 50 percent participation but currently the country is hardly at 10 percent. The biggest achievement so far is the 40 percent women Chief Executive Officer representation in the workplace. According to the Global Gap Index, Botswana is ranked 122 out of 144 countries when it comes to mainstreaming gender, performing better than Kingdom of Eswatini only in Southern Africa.