The decision by Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CGWL) to dedicate the 2009, 16 days of activism on violence Against Women and Children, could offer an opportunity for Botswana’s Non-Governmental Organizations and Women’s Rights groups to replenish their campaign for the signing of the SADC gender protocol.
It is intended through a host of activities, ranging from workshops, marches, panel discussions, fairs and talk shows as well as church services, to acknowledge and honour those who committed to transforming the plight of women.
A position paper from Botswana Civil Society on signing the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development indicates that, there are already in place, salient national frameworks reflective of the ideals and spirit of the declared commitments and strategies that Botswana was privy to.
“Notable of them are, Vision 2016, NDP 10 and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action as well as the National Gender Programme Framework,” reads the paper.
In addition, there is the National Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS, the National Strategy for Poverty Alleviation and more importantly, the Millennium Development Goals to which Botswana subscribes.
The targets and timeframes set therein are consistent with those stipulated in the SADC Protocol, according to the position paper.
Notwithstanding the good intent of these regional, continental and international instruments, Botswana remains one of the three countries in the 15 member regional body that have shown no sign of complying with the stipulations of the set standards.
According to Chigedze Chinyepi, Coordinator of BOCONGO’s Gender Commission, the added value of the SADC Protocol is its call, in very specific, decisive and pragmatic terms to translate into action, all the thoughts and decisions embodied in the various instruments and documents.
“Failure or delay in signing therefore poses grave implications on crucial aspects of the regional agenda, especially regarding integration and collaboration, as well on the national and democratic processes,” said BOCONGO.
In spite of this, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Phandu Skelemani was captured by Botswana Television on the 6th September 2009, saying aspects of the proposed rights enshrined in the SADC Protocol and Gender Development are silly.
The stated provisions address the rights of widows and widowers.
On the eve of the BOCONGO sponsored NGO week on the first quarter of this year, Vice President Lieutenant General Mompati Merafhe had said, “Some of the clauses in this protocol make it really difficult for government to consider signing the Protocol.”
Lebogang Bok, Assistant Manager Communications in the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs(MLHA) said, “The aim of the 16 days of Activism which is a campaign against violence on women and children, is to create the tools to encourage government, private sectors and society at large to implement promises made to eliminate Gender based violence.”
The Ministry (MLHA) is set to officially launch the beginning of the commemoration activities on the 25th November 2009, whereupon the activities will continue up to the 10th December 2009. Held under the theme, “Commit, Act, Demand: We can end Violence against Women and Children “, the campaign was inspired by the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 2008.
Central to the objectives of the commemoration is the aim to encourage everyone in their various capacities to take action to end violence on Women and demanding accountability for all the promises made to eliminate violence.
“The Central message is: “Women’s rights are human rights and violence against Women constitutes violation of human rights,” concluded Bok.