Efforts by Botswana to increase female participation in the economy has paid dividends as the country moved 40 places up in the 2014 World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report.
Botswana landed on the eighth spot in the Economic Participation and Opportunity category ahead of Kenya with an overall ranking of 51, moving up 34 places from last year.
The report also confirms that Botswana has been making significant strides in achieving gender equality as in the overall ranking out of the 142 countries surveyed.
Addressing delegates at the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP) launch, Acting Deputy Director in the Gender Affairs Department, Matshidiso Thathana said women are a significant entrepreneurial force.
She said women’s contribution to local, national and global economies are far reaching.
She added that reducing barriers to market access and enhancing women’s participation in market share would benefit both the economy and the households.
“Government has therefore initiated national women expositions in response to the disparities that exist between women and men in trade and economic spheres.
The strategy is part of the national gender programme, particularly addressing the critical area of concern on poverty and economic empowerment of women,” she said.
Thathana said that the expositions are intended to profile women’s presence in business as well as showcase their
She also said female unemployment has gradually decreased over the years from 31.2 percent in 2008 to 21.4 percent in 2009-2010, but rose again to 22.6 percent in 2011-2012 before it dropped by 0.2 percent in 2013-2014 to 22.4 percent. Thathana noted that there is need for increased effort to enable women and engage them in income generation, thereby promoting sustainable livelihoods and economic independence.
“Government has also made a commitment to allocate resources for the women’s economic empowerment to support income generating projects for women. At the present moment, the economic empowerment fund has surpassed its initial allocation by eight folds,” she said.
Government allocated about five percent of the alcohol levy fund as additional support for women’s economic empowerment, an apportionment that was increased to 10 percent in the year 2014-2015.
Botswana adopted the National Policy on Women in Development (WID) in 1995 to close the relative gap between men and women in terms of equality and equity in accessing socio-economic and political development resources.