Botswana’s women elite celebrated the International Women’s Day in style. They donned their best traditional outfits, finishing off with colourful big hats. At an exclusive event hosted by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Planning (MLGRDP), Assistant Minister Botlogile Tshireletso led the celebrations themed, ‘Pledge for Gender Parity’.
When talking about the day and what it means to her the minister recalled of the time that she got into politics. She started off as a councillor and when she was elected into council for the first time many men that tried to intimidate her because they didn’t think she would do the job while women took her to be an irresponsible mother to leave her family and run around with politics. She is the Chairperson for the Women’s Committee in Parliament. Tshireletso revealed that they need help and support especially from other women to change things. She encouraged women to be happy and proud. “Most of the times as women in Parliament we have not been able to make decisions, but at least laws have been implemented that recognised us,” she said. She recognised the 2008 Domestic Violence Act, 2011 Children’s Act and 2014 Married Persons Act. She asked women to stop pulling each other down.
She has had a sterling career as a lawyer, and is the first woman to be appointed Judge at the High Court of Botswana and currently is the Minister of Education and Skills Development. Always having been the advocate for Human Rights and for women, Dow questioned why women are always expected to value marriage more than their lives when the same is not expected of men. She said marriage should be treated as valuable equally for both men and women. She encouraged women to prepare their wills because it could be difficult for the children to put together what their parents had if they do not have a will since there are a lot of witnesses that are needed to make that possible. “That should be done no matter the kind of stable family someone is coming from,” she said. She called on women to break through barriers that make them undermine their leadership potential. Dow regretted that most women tend to believe more in the leadership of men than in themselves. “This shows that even women do not see other women as leaders, and that is why we need to change that mentality,” she said. She also covered the issue of Chieftaincy where it has only men that tend to become Chiefs. She advised women to raise their daughters in a way that they will know that they do not have to look masculine or tomboyish to do things that men do. They can just look like women and take higher positions and do those things that are dominated by men, she said.
A motivational speaker, Ntswaneng said she might not be a politician but she is an advocate for women issues. She said that as women they pray and strategise inside their wombs and that shows how strong they are. She said having been with a woman who had an abortion that went wrong, a woman that had his arm twisted and beaten up; that should be enough for women to support each other on a day-to-day basis. She said that as women they should look good and not neglect themselves just because they have children and a husband to take care of. She regretted that every day there is a woman running for her dear life, a woman who is repeatedly being raped; a woman who only knows a brothel as his world and that is why she cannot understand why a woman will stand in a corner and gossip about the other woman or pull her down with derogatory remarks. “Let’s celebrate each other, what is wrong with us, let us not cry for gender parity but let us be the best versions of ourselves, compete with yourself and not another woman,” she said. She said being women who care for their husbands, should not make them second class citizens because whatever that they do for their husbands and children they do that with love. “Let’s allow our little girls to blossom and flourish, let’s love each other,” she said.
She is a champion of netball, a mother, a wife and Chief Communications at Mascom Botswana, but with so many things on her plate, LebotseSebego always makes time for all of her duties. She advised women to find that one thing that makes them high – in her case Netball though she does not get paid for her services there. “You should have that one selfish thing that you do for yourself as a woman, and as for me that is netball,” she said. She recalled of a time that she left her now two-year-old child when she was only 10 days old to go to Scotland for the Netball World Youth Cup bid because she wanted that to be hosted in Botswana and it became possible. She said for anyone that comes with stereotypes where some might think that of irresponsibility, to her it was about fulfilling her destiny because there was no how she can be a happy mother, wife or daughter if she could not fulfil something that she knows she could have done. “You should find that one thing that makes you happy and do it well,” she said.
Dr Pule Kitchins of Bongaka Health Care encouraged women to make sure that they stay fit and look good so that they can also feel good about themselves. She advised them to make sure that they have kids and still get back to the shape that they were because that is possible, because that contributes so much to their wellbeing. She discouraged risky drinking among women.