By Portia Nkani
The women economic empowerment funding scheme ÔÇô sponsored by the Gender Affairs Department continues to record a rise in the number of applicants each year passing.
To date, the scheme is said to have benefitted over 3700 recipients to start their own small businesses.
The scheme, which is housed under the Ministry of Nationality Immigration and Gender Affairs, seeks to empower women economically and arrest poverty.
The Ministry responsible, headed by Ngaka Ngaka revealed that “the scheme the annual budget allocation for the Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme has been increasing over the years from P300 000 in 1998 to P55 200 000 to date. This clearly demonstrates Government’s commitment towards the economic empowerment of women through this programme.”
According to the Ministry, the programme has so far benefited a total of 3 725 individuals under different sectors such as agro-business, catering and tourism, since its inception.
To ensure sustainability, the ministry mentors beneficiaries and equips them with business management skills as well as marketing access. The programme is under review to make it more relevant to address targeted groups.
The Ministry through the Gender Affairs Department administers disbursement of funds for implementation of the Women Economic Empowerment Programme.
Funds are allocated to individual women shareholders, Women Non-Governmental Organisations, Community Based Organisations and Women’s groups.
Furthermore, the Ministry provides technical support to women groups and individuals to start income generating projects.
These projects are viewed as having the potential to address the beneficiaries’ immediate and practical needs.
Botswana is reported to be lagging behind in some critical areas of women empowerment, 24 years after the historic Beijing conference.
Held in 1995, the Beijing conference – which attracted activists and delegates from all over the world – identified critical areas such as women and the economy, women in power, violence against women, human rights and women and institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women. Although it was the fourth international conference on women empowerment, the Beijing conference is considered the most critical gathering on women affairs, owing not only to the robust deliberations that lasted for three weeks but because the conference introduced the Beijing Platform of Action hailed as the most progressive blueprint for the economic and social advancement of women.