The newly established National Gender Commission has been hailed as a step in the right direction as far as bridging gender inequality in Botswana is concerned. The commission which was launched in Gaborone on Thursday according to the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Edwin Batshu is established as the accountability structure to replace the Botswana National Council on Women. The Commission, Batshu says is multi-spectral in nature and its commissioners are drawn from sectors of government, parastatals institutions, the private sector and civil society organisations. “As the Minister responsible for Gender, I appointed sixteen (16) Commissioners,” said Minister Batshu.
The commissioners will be mandated with providing strategic policy direction, leadership, and governance of the national gender response. They will also advise government on gender issues and in particular policy development and service delivery. Their mandate also include liaising with the Gender Affairs Department and other stakeholders in parastatals organisation, the private sector and civil society organisation to develop appropriate programs, strategies and mechanisms for enhancing gender equity to mention but a few. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko has been appointed chairperson of the commission. Minister Batshu stated that gender equality is an issue that Botswana as a country can never ignore more so that it is enshrined in the country’s constitution. “Our journey as a country started in 1966 with the coming into effect of the constitution of Botswana which proscribes any form of discrimination against any person,” he said.
He said it is therefore imperative to highlight that Botswana recognises gender inequality as a major obstacle to the socio-economic and political development of her people. To this end he says government has taken various measures to ensure equality to all citizens in particular, gender equality and gender equity. “2015 marked the birth of the new global development agenda that is : sustainable development goals of which goal five; ‘Promoting Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls’ is of great importance to me as a minister responsible for gender,” said Batshu. According to Batshu Botswana adopted the National Policy on Gender and Development (NPGAD) in order to align with the post 2015 development agenda, recognising the discourse on gender and Development. The policy according to Batshu adopts gender mainstreaming as a key strategy for achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment. This approach he says recognises that both women and men must be involved in the development process to effectively address the root cause of gender inequality.
The policy according to the Minister prioritises among others economic development, prosperity and poverty eradication to achieve sustainable development, political power, democratic governance and decision making for gender mainstreaming. “Mainstreaming of gender in these priority areas creates primary pathways through which gender responsive and inclusive systems will stimulate socio-economic growth, social protection, equity in access to social services, investment in human and physical capital, infrastructure and performance of markets and institutions,” he said. For her part the Chairperson of National Gender Commission, Kgosi Mosadi Seboko acknowledged that the struggle with gender parity in Botswana is not a new development and has women as majority of its causalities. “Some of us have burnt our fingers already fighting for gender equality,” she said. She however noted that Batswana were starting to accept and understand efforts being made in bridging the gap. She also said that it is important to note that the commission is gender inclusive.