March 8 is the day the world over recognises the role of the womenfolk outside the home. It is the day to observe and celebrate the emancipation of women, in the workplace, political space, business and or any other public space.
It is a day of the strength that is a woman is observed. The day women are recognised, appreciated and celebrated. We have just done that, last week Wednesday.
But as it has become a norm in Botswana, such important days go by without much fanfare or ado. We wake up to an official statement, a gathering there, a speech by the Minister or some guest of honour, on rare occasion, a commitment to improve certain laws, policies and practices to ensure the gender equality.
Then, within 24 hours, all is forgotten and life goes on. But then for the over half the population, as the world has come to accept that women are more in numbers than men. It is that life of inequality in the workplace just as is in the home.
Yes, centuries ago, when the Scandinavian women stood to demand the right to vote, and others the world over demanded an opportunity to be educated, choose whatever profession they wish to pursue, work and have equal pay, the scales were really tipped against women.
We can say the world is a better place today. But it still remains a man’s world. More and more women are climbing the professional ladder, and even occupying management positions, as Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Edwin Batshu, noted at a public servants’ gathering celebrating the day last week. He observed that the country leads in the SADC region with women in leadership positions within public service at 44 percent.
He said over 70 percent of women are at management level within the public service, but in the
But then just as the Government pats itself in the back for doing good in getting women in management positions, we don’t have to rely on statistics to realise that at the top end, women’s heads are still being counted. There are not many and enough women directors and permanent secretaries in Government departments and chief executive officers in parastals. In fact, this country is still to have a woman top civil servant, the Permanent Secretary to the President.
The worst is in the area of policymakers. The legislators. While in the civil service women enter and rise, more so because it is because it is professional and individual abilities and qualifications, in politics is where breaking the glass ceiling is just next to impossible.
After 50 years of self-rule, Botswana is yet to have a Parliament with at least 10 percent of women legislators. While the SADC gender protocol seeks 50% quota for women in legislative assemblies, having upped from 30% some years back, of the 64 Members of Parliament, women are counted in one hand, five – three constituency elected, and two specially elected.
They would have been six, but for the recent passing away of the sole opposition, Tlokweng MP Same Bathobakae. And as it currently stands, a man will replace her. The current state of affairs is that women MPs make 7.8 percent.