Men and women of Gender Links, as well as other non-governmental organizations dealing with women’s issues, are calling for the President of Botswana to reconsider his decision not to sign the Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s protocol on gender and development. Botswana and Mauritius are the only countries that have had reservations on signing the protocol.
It’s said that President Ian Khama’s position was that the document was mandatory and that the country did not have enough resources to honour the requirements that came with signing the protocol.
The Protocol encompasses commitments made by heads of states regionally, globally and continentally, to implement instruments for achieving gender equality.
The protocol was first brainstormed and adopted by all heads of state within the SADC community in August 2008.
Of late, SADC tried to ensure accountability to gender equality by all member states so they therefore revised the protocol to make it a legal document in which member states are bound to follow all articles.
Co-ordinator of Gender Links Botswana, Keabonye Ntsabane, said that they are aware of the challenges faced by the government in terms of provision of the resources.
She, however, explained that this is where their efforts as NGOs would be tested because it would then be upon them to help the government where it needs aid. She said that some of the clauses in the document are areas where Botswana has made tremendous improvement on, such as article 27, the field which covers prevention, treatment care of HIV/AIDS through use of counseling centres.
“We humbly request the president to sign the protocol because in actual fact, by signing the protocol, the country will only be strengthening the work already on the ground,” said Ntsabane.
Ntsabaneng also said that the president’s reluctance to sign the protocol might also arise from that, as it’s peculiar to legal documents, at some stage countries have to report the progress they have been making on specific fields since implementation.
She conceded that they haven’t lobbied their stance to the Office of the President yet but they have gone as far as the ministerial level under the BOCONGO flag.