BY ARNOLD LETSHOLO
Emang Basadi has released the results of a ground breaking study in search of “missing women” in Botswana’s decision making positions; especially political office.
The study ‘Mme Okae’, sought to establish the reasons behind the dearth of women in positions of power.
Emang Basadi Spokesperson, Segametsi Modisaotsile revealed that ‘Mme o kae’ document has been released and it will be launched soon. Following a proposal that was approved the same month it was submitted the US Embassy has since joined the bandwagon.
Modisaotsile said their journey with the project dates back to the late 1990s when political education was selected as the best solution to gender disparities where women are visible everywhere except in political offices. Back then she said, sponsorship was better as donors were willing to support them. A lot of ground was covered then.
“In 2015, a decision was taken to come up with a proposal for sponsorship so that a study can be conducted. Women always unwaveringly participate in elections; registering in large numbers but very few in political offices. The study was started in 2017 and completed in 2018. The African Women Development Fund rescued us with some funds. We could not cover the whole country because of the meagre funds,” explained Modisaotsile.
They were not taken aback but rather strategized by conducting the study at rural areas, and peri urban areas. Kgalagadi North and South were picked as some of distant rural areas. Palapye was picked as peri-urban centre.
The cultural barriers, the study found; peddled by patriarchy, remain the common feature in this none active participation of women. Furthermore; it was established, women are oppressed by poverty as campaign is expensive.
“Those who have attempted contesting also complain that the electoral system-first past the post is not helping their situation. When we started activities like workshops for women primary elections had already taken place. We have since decided that the initiative goes beyond 2019 elections,” she said. She added that they are banking on the hope that more women would be nominated for political offices- both parliamentary and council seats.
US Embassy’s Public Affairs Officer, Ineke Margaret Stoneham said Emang Basadi sent them a proposal back in September of 2018. It was reviewed by a grants committee and awarded the same month. She explained that all proposals for funding undergo a rigorous review process to determine the organizational capacity of the requesting entity, its expertise in the stated project field, its technical capacity to undertake the project, and that it has clear identifiable and reasonable results that benefit a significant number of people and can be attained successfully within the grant duration.
She further highlighted that the Embassy supports many initiatives that help ensure Botswana continues to have strong institutions which promote accountable, transparent, and democratic governance, protecting the rule of law and human rights for all. It is not for the first time that the embassy sponsored initiatives.
“In 2014 the U.S. Embassy sponsored a multi-sector pitso on the promotion of women in politics with resources and support for effective leadership. Issues addressed included obstacles and opportunities for women to take on more prominent roles in elected or appointed political leadership. The event also included a roundtable dialogue on approaches to support women who are interested in seeking political leadership positions, and a discussion on Botswana’s gender and development policy,” said Stoneham.
She highlighted that they are funding their program of awareness raising and skills development for women candidates from all political parties. They have also attended some of their events, most recently in July in Gaborone.
“After observing some of the session, I spoke briefly to the aspiring candidates about methods and tools I use for effective public speaking in my role as Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Embassy. A member of my team stayed for the morning session where the women practiced public speaking,” she said.
She said that Emang Basadi’s proposal included training aspiring women candidates in public speaking, issue research, civic and voter education on why it is important to have women in government at all levels, and sharing their research report “Mme o kae”.