FRANCISTOWN: The Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu has revealed that over P67million will be used to empower women.
He said to date, over 67,000 citizens were taken through briefing sessions on the revised women empowerment programme across the country and in response over 3,500 applications were received with 393 approved for funding.
Batshu disclosed this at the official opening of this year’s fourth Northern Women’s Business Exposition at Adansonia Hotel recently.
This year’s exposition was held under the theme, ‘Women entrepreneurs@50: Re Gatetse pele’ and attracted 159 exhibitors from Francistown, Selebi-Phikwe Central, North East, Chobe and Ngami districts. The minister said over the years government has channelled significant resources for the empowerment of women.
He said in 1999 the women’s exposition was introduced to expose women to the trade sphere and the exposition has grown from a mere 70 exhibitors nationally to 350. “We have also seen growth to include the introduction of the northern women’s exposition in 2013 with exhibitors increasing from 100 to the current 159,” said Batshu.
He added that to further demonstrate growth in this endeavour a total of 15 women entrepreneurs graduated last year at the 16th National women’s exposition in Gaborone.
“In this exposition we will be proudly graduating our first batch of six women entrepreneurs. These are businesswomen whom we have hand-held for four years through the exposition and are able to compete in the market,” said Batshu.
Batshu stated that in 2015, Parliament adopted the national policy on gender and development, the policy that emphasises the need to address specific
He said in order to facilitate implementation, cabinet recently approved a 12-member national gender commission whose main function is to provide strategic policy direction and governance of the country’s response to gender issues.
“That same year, my ministry reviewed the women’s economic empowerment programme to cover individual women, groups of two or more as well as community projects and cooperatives. The funding ceilings were also revised to range between P100,000 for individuals and P500,000 for community projects and cooperatives. In July this year the threshold for eligibility was revised from P500 to P1000 per month,” Batshu said.
The minister said he was humbled by women’s efforts that they put in improving the quality of their products when touring the stalls.
“From what I saw I am convinced that some of your merchandise will soon be exported to other countries. I, however, would like to urge you to intensify your efforts in marketing your products,” Batshu advised.
He said government has taken deliberate action to empower citizens through, amongst others, the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD), which promotes local procurement calling on women entrepreneurs to take advantage of.
He pleaded with women to take governmental poverty eradication programmes seriously and use them to empower and alleviate themselves from poverty.
Batshu also pleaded with the business community to support the noble efforts of government by procuring from women entrepreneurs.