Thursday, August 5, 2021

Botswana’s race to even-up gender disparity is steadily gathering steam

It’s a gap that the World Economic Forum (WEF) has described as one that no country cannot afford to ignore. A fortnight ago, the Swiss-based think tank claimed that the gender gap in Botswana is narrowing and the level of women’s participation in Botswana’s economic arena is taking a leap forward. “Only 22 countries have closed at least 80% of the gap in managerial roles. Among them are a few countries where women are 50% or more of all managers, including the Philippines, Cote d’Ivoire, Colombia, Burkina Faso, Jamaica, Togo, Botswana,” states part of the WEF 2021 Global Gender Gap report.

The Insight report which examines data from 156 countries which tracks progress toward gender equality in the fields of the economy, politics, education and health, noted that gender inequality keeps women trapped in cycles of poverty. However, the WEF notes that when the gender gap starts to narrow and women start receiving better education, better economic opportunities, better healthcare, and better job opportunities, they can thrive.

Globally, Botswana is ranked 16th in the Economic participation and opportunity category with a score of 0.799. The Swiss-based think tank says while the Covid-19 pandemic will make it even harder to reap the returns from investments, it is critical to take a gender lens in the immediate crisis response and recovery policies will be critical to advance economic gender parity.

In the 2021 Insight report, Botswana inched up two places from 73rd in 2020 to 71st among 156 countries in the gender gap rankings. Although the report notes great progress in education and health, where Botswana has closed the gender gap by 99%, there are sobering statistics relating to declining political participation. The Insight report highlights that Botswana still has a low rate of women’s participation in the political arena with only 11% women in parliament. The report states that Botswana is ranked 135 out of 155 countries in the political empowerment category with a score of 0.084. Over the years, the First-past-the-post (FPTP) has been blamed for the low number of women in the political arena in Botswana.

Among other things, the overall gender gap ranking was topped by Iceland for the 12th consecutive year, followed by Finland, Norway and New Zealand. All four top-ranking countries are led by female prime ministers.

The Insight report which tracks progress toward gender equality in the fields of the economy, politics, education and health, noted that the index offers a means to benchmark progress and is designed to create awareness of the challenges that gender gaps pose, as well as the opportunities that emerge when action is taken to reduce them.

The report also quotes recent estimates that suggest economic gender parity could add millions to the gross domestic product (GDP). Countries’ scores are calculated across 4 indicators on a 0 to 100 scale, and these scores are interpreted as distance to gender parity, or the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed in a country.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper