The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) said this week that there will be no special treatment for female trainees in the private rank. The army also stated that its first batch of female soldiers in the same rank will be trained locally.
In 2007 BDF made history by enlisting women into the army and trained them to become soldiers. They were trained in Tanzania by the Tanzania People’s Defense Forces (TPDF) for a twelve month period.
Responding to The Telegraph queries, Director of Protocol and Public Affairs Colonel Tebo Dikole said “There will be no special treatment for female trainees.” Exceptions will however be made when nature takes its course.
“However there are separate military physical fitness standards for females and males. Both male and female recruits will be expected to undergo military physical fitness standards in accordance with best international military practices and standards.”
Dikole declined to shed light on the number of females in the private rank.
“Yes it is true we will be brining on board female recruits in the near future. As is normal practice we do not reveal our intended surge in recruitment or current holdings for security reasons,” he said.
Dikole added that “what we can attest to is we recruit based on current shortages in general and those shortages are not gender based. For that purpose we have not allocated any specific vacancies to female recruits.”
He reiterated that the female soldiers who will be enrolled in the private rank will be trained locally.
“The BDF has developed capacity to train female officers locally; therefore, they will be trained locally by the Force Training Establishment,” he said.
Dikole said the recruitment of female soldiers in the rank of private will go a long way in neutralising the gender imbalances in the army.
“This is a milestone since have long yearned to have a gender neutral Defence Force; with representation throughout both the Officer and Enlisted cadres. We are excited to achieve this milestone before the nation celebrates Vision 2016,” he said.
BDF warned its female recruits to forget about having a social life once they became soldiers and that they have to accept conditions that have been stipulated in their employment contract.
BDF has promised to maintain strict disciplinary order among troops, including maintaining a total ban on sexual relationships between officers and non-commissioned officers.
The 30 women who made the grade for cadet officers were chosen from a list of 163 candidates.