As a cherry on top to mark the end of the 16 days against gender based violence, the SADC Gender Protocol Barometer of Botswana has been released.
Giving a brief overview of the report, researcher Elsie Alexandra explained the importance of statistics used in the report saying they gave clear portrayals. Alexandra also cited the number of difficulties they endured during the data collection primarily due to last year’s public sector strike and the general arduous procedure of getting data from senior government officials for the data analysis.
When officially launching the report the Head of SADC Gender Unit, Magdeline Madibela, explained that Botswana had not yet signed the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development but had however come up with initiatives which create an atmosphere conducive for women empowerment.
Regionally however, with the exception Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the other signatories were at the stage where they have deposited their instrument on the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and were at the implementation stage.
Madibela further explained that in order to “accelerate implementation” the SADC secretariat had been mandated by Ministers responsible for Gender and Women’s affairs to develop a regional plan of action. “This is with a view to operationalizing the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development,” she said.
This year’s report had two new chapters; Climate Change and conflict resolution. Alexandra pointed out that climate change needs to be addressed from a gender perspective since women’s livelihood was primarily dependent on natural resource and will ultimately affected by the climate change.
She further explained that on the political landscape there was still an imbalance in the female representation of women members of parliament and that there were no women in the back bench since all the women are in cabinet.
Regarding education Alexandra found it worthy to note that not only does Education get awarded the biggest chunk of the national budget but there is gender parity in schools and the contention in the education system is the relevance of the education to the needs of the economy and society.
The report however suggests that all Batswana have access to basic health facilities all within an eight kilometre radius but the quality of these services remains questionable considering the child mortality rate which still stands at 193.4 per 100┬á000 births. Gender based violence also remains common in our society, 67 percent of the women interviewed for this report indicate that they had experienced some kind of violence either at home, in the work place and at school.
Madibela concluded by pointing out other challenges are aroused by the patriarchal attitudes of Botswana’s society’, which ultimately translate into many hindering factors like the decline of women in political offices, a male driven economy.
“Gender violence remains the most telling indicator of women’s lack of rights and human rights abuse,” reiterated Madibela. She further said that despite not being a signatory, Botswana however still effects the SADC protocol but they were still pushing towards encouraging government to sign.