Botswana: Gender Equality Pioneers Reflect On Progress Made Since Beijing

Gaborone — Deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Mr Motse Otlhabanye on Tuesday joined the pioneers of human rights and gender equality to reflect on progress made from the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Speaking on behalf of Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Mr Otlhabanye said Botswana could not celebrate any achievement to the exclusion of those who were and continue to be agents of change and transformation.

He reiterated that inter-generational dialogue provided an opportunity to celebrate the achievements made thus far, and to reflect on challenges and dialogue on best strategies to improve the status of women in Botswana, particularly young women and women in leadership.

He said it would be remiss not to appreciate the men who were part of the Botswana delegation to the 1995 conference as well as the foot soldiers who spread the good news from Beijing. He added that it was not an easy journey as they had to endure humiliation from all fronts.

Mr Otlhabanye applauded women for their courage, determination and resilience, saying that they opened a pathway for women’s empowerment, not only for the present generation, but also for those to come.

“Today, as women we have found our voice to boldly have our say in the development of our country, and we have found our feet to stand with confidence and assume critical leadership positions in our nation. It is all thanks to your selfless determination which indeed came at a heavy price,” he said.

Mr Otlhabanye said it was gratifying to observe that following the Beijing Conference, government introduced a raft of legislative and administrative reforms to ensure that women and girls’ status were significantly improved.

In particular, he listed six critical focal areas which included among others women and the economy and violence against women as pillars that ought to be rehabilitated.

He added that government introduced the reforms out of recognition of the fact that women’s rights were human rights too.

“This allowed women to freely and more earnestly participate in the socio-economic, cultural and political development of our country,” he said.

Mr Otlhabanye noted that as the campaign for the initial six areas was in full swing, and education and information became more readily available, government introduced further reforms encompassing women in the media, gender-sensitive responses to climate and women and peacekeeping.