Hot on the heels of President Ian Khama's announcement last week of an Economic Stimulus Package (ESP), the flood gates have been flung open for local women, who will soon be 'smiling all the way to the bank'. The good news were delivered by the Minister of Home Affairs Edwin Batshu on Wednesday, when announcing the results of a review of the Women Economic Empowerment Programme.
Batshu said effective the November 01, his ministry will start awarding grants to individuals under the Women Economic Empowerment programme. One woman will qualify for a grant of up to P100 000, while two will get up to P250 000. A group of a minimum of five women, cooperatives and other community groups will have an opportunity of getting up to P500 000 from Batshu’s ministry. Initially the programme was only given to groups.
The announcement was made during the handing over of a donation by the Chinese Ambassador and Botswana Chinese Women’s Association to Mosadi Khumo Socio- Economic Empowerment Forum for Women. According to Batshu, over the years the programme has been reviewed and adjusted in accordance with findings thereof. At first the grant was only disbursed to Women’s Non-Governmental Organisations, Community Based Organisations and groups of up to 10 women but after realising that their businesses didn’t last the number was reduced to five, the current adjustment he says has been under review for six months now.
“We eventually realised that most business ended up falling apart leaving one or two women to continue operating and decided that may be it was better if we reduce the number to match this viability,” he said. Batshu urged women around the country to take advantage of this new development, saying the only limitation to them now could only be the programme’s budget, which currently is only P2.1 million. The minister however noted that the programme is not part of the Economic Stimulus Package. According to Batshu his ministry has only been mandated with automating all systems to ensure that the Economic Stimulus Package is efficient and effective.
He however stated that the government of Botswana continues to review the status of women and develop targeted interventions for redress.
“To this end , Parliament of Botswana in August 2015, adopted the National Policy on Gender and Development which prioritises gender mainstreaming as a means to achieving equity and equality. The Policy among its imports also emphasises the empowerment of women for economic independence,” he said. Meanwhile the Chinese Embassy and the Botswana Chinese Women’s Association donated cash amounting to P50 000 and office equipment to Mosadi Khumo. When handing over the cheque to Mosadi-Khumo the Chinese Ambassador to Botswana Zheng Zhuqiang said the donation affirms and promoted the China-Africa People to People Action which was launched in 2013 to support bilateral support between China and African countries.
Zhuqiang said the idea is that the donation will be used to advance and better the lives of Batswana women. For her part Mosadi Khumo President Bookie Kethusegile said the funds and equipment support will go a long way in helping them achieve some of their planned activities. "Certainly, the secretariat of Mosadi Khumo will be better equipped to do its work through the equipment that the Chinese Women’s Association has given us,” Kethusegile said.
Kethusegile also pledged Mosadi Khumo ’s support for the Economic Stimulus Package, which she says as women, they want to be in the mainstream , and even at the fore-front of. “For us the Stimulus Package provides an opportunity at the right time when we are positioned to embrace, grab and run with it, right there alongside our male folk,” said Kethusegile.
Kethusegile said as a marginalised group, just like the youth who are getting special dispensations and considerations in government programmes and packages, women also hope that the same can be extended to them so that they are not bogged down by systematic and administrative bottlenecks.
Mosadi Khumo is a non-government Organisation, whose mandate is to harness and leverage woman’s power to transform and impact society at large by utilising the value chain system model as well as to take deliberate actions to invest for and to assist women invest and grow their businesses, income and wealth, creating jobs and alleviating poverty in the process.