I am honored to be amongst you for this very important milestone where our Ministry is engaging with Dikgosi on Mainstreaming Gender into the Customary Justice System under the theme: “Take a Step; End Gender Based Violence Now!”; ke gore: “Tsaya Kgato; Emisa Kgokgontsho ka Ponyo ya Leitlho”. This theme challenges us particularly Magosi as our leaders who have daily contact with communities to reflect on this deadly pandemic that has hit our country.
We are quite aware that Dikgosi continue to promote our national values such as Botho and Protection of those that are vulnerable. Let us recall that in 2016, we celebrated our Golden Jubilee as A United and Proud Nation. It is however shocking that two years down the line some acts of violence which leaves indelible scars on victims and the nation at large, are reported almost on weekly basis. This should challenge us, to unite as citizens and act against crime including GBV.
It is critical to highlight that GBV which is born from unequal power relations remains a major concern. Our Ministry notes the escalating incidences of GBV including the recent and brutal murder of Ms Elizabeth Bonolo Kerekang whose headless body was dumped in Tlokweng. Beng bame, this act should challenge all of us especially you as community leaders to reflect on who we are and where we are heading as a nation. I therefore plead with Dikgosi to openly engage with your communities on gender issues and develop interventions based on your specific needs/issues.
The gravity of unequal power relations, harmful cultural practices, gender stereotypes and perceptions which fuel gender inequalities resulting in escalating GBV, do not only require engagement in fora such as this one; but requires that we continuously and consistently raise them in all community gatherings.
It is disheartening that we seem blinded to the fact that GBV does not only affect the victim alone but affects their family and the society at large. The effects of GBV have a significant bearing on the development of this nation as substantial resources are employed to address it including providing security services, medical attention and psycho-social support. All these expenses deeply hurt the economy, thereby slowing development.
Our Ministry has identified the institution of Bogosi as vital in addressing Gender Based Violence (GBV) in local communities. Let me remind this honourable gathering that in November 2012, as the then Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs we hosted the first Bogosi Gender Pitso in Palapye where 112 Dikgosi attended. The Pitso came up with resolutions that were essentially a declaration and a commitment on the part of Dikgosi to promote gender equality in their respective communities.
Dikgosi tsame! Government takes cognisance of the crucial advisory role that Dikgosi play in supporting policy development particularly on the socio-economic and cultural issues that affect communities at grassroot level. As some of you may be aware, one of the major recommendations made in 2012 was the re-naming of Women’s Affairs Department which Government embraced in April 2013 by re-naming the Department Gender Affairs (GeAD). Within the same year, Government started commemoration of International Men’s Day (IMD).
Having highlighted the effects and impact of GBV on our socio-economic, cultural and political development, may I humbly request that we reflect on the positive role that you can all play to address these social ills.
On this note, let me assure you that the Government of Botswana remains committed to engaging Dikgosi to ensure that our traditional practices conform to human rights principles and contribute to the promotion of gender equality. To this end, our Ministry will continue to provide technical support to facilitate implementation of the Bogosi Action Plan.
It is quite evident that, gender issues vary in nature and spectra and as such require a multi-sectoral and multi-pronged approach. Therefore a gathering of this nature offers opportunity to objectively engage on these various gender related issues.
For this Pitso, the main objectives are therefore to;
• Identify key gender issues and related challenges in the Customary Justice System;
• Consider strategies that work towards addressing gender inequality, discrimination and Gender Based Violence (GBV);
• Develop an action plan to address identified gender issues in the customary justice system.
• Contribute to the gender research agenda;
• Identify key advocacy issues and;
• Inform effective coordination and monitoring of the national gender agenda.
*MOEPENG IS THE PERMANENT SECRETARY MINISTRY OF NATIONALITY, IMMIGRATION AND GENDER AFFAIRS. She was presenting objectives of the Bogosi Gender Pitso .