Botswana is one of the countries in Southern Africa region which has not signed the Sothern African Development Community’s (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Equality. This issue surfaced at a workshop conducted by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in collaboration with Gender Sector, SADC Gender Protocol and Development as well as Trade Unions on Thursday at Fair Grounds. ”Following the just ended SADC summit in August, this workshop comes at the right time as it encourages talks to continue on gender issues,” said Director at Gender Affairs Department Thapelo Phuthego.
She added that she appreciates reasons why Botswana did not sign the protocol which include unrealistic targets and the use of additional resources to meet set targets.
Chairperson of the Women’s Council, Goitseone Sebego said the duties of the Women’s Council is to assist trade unions in the field of education on gender issues. “We view the protocol as the tool that brings together the existing regional and international policies as well as legal instruments and commitments to gender equality. We advocate for transformative goals on gender equality built on premise human rights,” she said. Sebego said the protocol seeks to put to an end all forms of sexual and gender violence faced by women and girls, ensure that women and girls have access to control over the ownership of productive resources including land, energy and information and technology. “We will be delighted to see the government, parastatal and all other stakeholders across all sectors pushing for a 50% representation of women in decision making. We also seek recognition, redistribution and remuneration for unpaid care work for girls and women,” she continued. Sebego said the fact that women only occupy 8% of the seats in parliament reflects how Botswana is still lagging behind on issues of gender equality.
“Although our country has indicated its unwillingness to sign the protocol, we as employee representatives believe that this is time for change, the chance is now for our leaders to put more effort towards reviewing their stand in the protocol so that we too can be counted amongst the countries that have signed and are therefore supportive through its implementation, monitoring and evaluation,” she said. Sebogo said since the country has signed the Millennium Development Goals, The Beijing Platform for Action, the convention on the elimination of all discrimination against women she sees no point in delaying to lobby, amend and sign the protocol. “The ball is in our court,” said Sebego.
Phuthego said gender issues remain relevant nationally and internationally. “We need to see our country prioritise and let other projects pave way for the implementation of the Gender Protocol. It is time to take a quantum leap and fully participate and recognise trade unions as major social partners,” she said.