On Monday as the Botswana Council of Non Governmental Organization (BOCONGO) held its two-day forum on Gender and Development in Francistown, gender activist and attorney, Monica Tabengwa, pointed out that cultural influences continue to be a drawback in the efforts by women to participate in arenas of power, especially in politics.
Giving her presentation to participants, Tabengwa said that it is sad to note that in parliament, women only constitute about 7 percent of parliament, which handicaps their influence in decision making.
“There are some aspects of culture that urgently need to be changed for the good cause of the achievement of gender equality in this country, such as the limitations of power to women in households being left to the hands of men and the failure by some women not challenging cultural aspects that oppress them,” she said.
She pointed out that women continue to experience the difficulty in socializing due to multi roles embedded in them within their families and cultural beliefs, which then puts them at a disadvantage in engaging in political campaigns.
Tabengwa continued to say that there is a need to develop gender policies that will see women and men on an equal power sharing ground. She went on to add that sometimes it is hard to change the attitude of women to accept that they are equal to men as they have been raised with a belief that a man is superior than a woman.
“There is need for culture to be revisited and rectified and for the parents to start encouraging their children to promote equality among themselves, regardless of their gender differences,” she said.
Tabengwa said that it is also sad to note that aspects in Botswana culture, such as inheritance, continue to put women at a disadvantage, giving the example of male children being given preference on issues of inheritance of their deceased parents’ property.
She urged women to stand up and shift from a mindset of believing that men are more powerful than they are and added that it is upon themselves to change the system which oppresses them.
The objectives of the BOCONGO workshop in Francistown were to bring together stakeholders to share the latest local, regional and international developments on the Gender Development expedition. The discussion involved politicians, religious organizations and many other stake holders from various organizations.