In line with the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration & Gender Affairs new mission #FacilitatorsNotFrustrators, the new Minister, Dorcas Makgato has pledged her ministry’s dedication to broadening gender mainstreaming by demonstrating in deliverables in all sectors.
Makgato was speaking on Tuesday when launching the upcoming National Women’s exposition which will run from 26- 30 JUne in Gaborone. The exposition starts on Tuesday with the Business Forum to equip entrepreneurs with business knowledge, followed by the an official opening and prize giving ceremony on June 28. Makgato called on everyone to support government’s effort in the economic empowerment of women in cognizant of the fact that women are the engines of all economies including Botswana. She said women constitute 51 percent of Botswana’s population of which 55 percent head households as compared to 45 percent of male-headed households.
“Women therefore remain the key drivers of our economy and it is critical that deliberate effort is made to economically empower them so that they contribute meaningfully to the economy. The economic stability of women is key to breaking the poverty cycle as women are able to independently support their children’s education which is a key factor to prosperity and success,” she said.
To achieve this, Makgato said her ministry has embarked on two key strategies being: Disbursement of funds to resource poor women to start income generating activities and facilitating them to access available markets. To this end the ministry will host the 19th National Women’s Expo. The Expo is open to all female entrepreneurs at all levels of business as well as those producing goods for subsistence or consumption. They are afforded an opportunity to interact with the public and appreciate how they can turn their products to earn a living from them.
According to Makgato Botswana as part of the United Nations subscribes to the Sustainable Development Goals of particular concern to her ministry today being; Goal 5 on the promotion of Gender Equality and Empowerment of all Women and Girls. “Botswana also subscribes to the African Union Agenda 2063 on ‘the Africa we want’ and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development,” she said.
To actualise these important gender instruments, Makgato said government has infused gender in the National Vision 2036 aspiring for Botswana where women and men equally participate in the economic, political and cultural development of the nation. In addition she said, the National Development Plan 11 also provides for gender mainstreaming under Governance and the prevention and elimination of Gender Based Violence under Safety and Security and that furthermore the National policy on Gender and Development prioritises among others economic development, prosperity and poverty eradication hence the Women’s Exposition.
She pointed out that the Expo is serving its purpose and has had a hand influencing women to think big. “I know that currently we have been looking at poorer women in our society but as part of my thinking; we have to broaden it. Because there is absolutely no reason why we cannot have women in big businesses because they will employ others,” she said.
The National Women’s Exposition was introduced in 1999 with only seventy (70) exhibitors. It has since grown to the current three hundred and fifty (350 including the Northern Women’s Expo). To improve the quality of the Expo, the Ministry has for the first time invited women entrepreneurs from Southern African Development Community (SADC) region specifically from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique. These were selected based on the various unique products produced by women from whom Batswana women could learn.
The Exposition will be held under the theme: “Entrepreneurs Development: Key to Transforming Women’s lives.”