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In coming First Lady commemorates International Women’s Day

In coming First Lady commemorates International Women’s Day

A good morning to you all.

It is an honour and pleasure to be here with you on this commemorative event following on the heels of the 2018 International Women’s Day, which was held on March 8, 2018. You will recall that the United Nations (UN) started observing International Women’s Day on March 8, 1975. More recently, another memorable milestone was the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

The Beijing Declaration, to which Botswana is a party, envisioned a world in which women would enjoy freedom from discrimination, be it in politics, business, the workplace, education; as well protection from domestic abuse and legally instituted disadvantages.

Botswana is also a signatory to the UN Convention on all forms of Discrimination against Women, and the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.

At the national level, we can refer to the 2004 Abolition of Marital Powers Act, the 2008 Domestic Violence Act, and the 2015 National Policy on Gender and Development. The policy is cross-cutting and promotes women’s inclusion in economic development, health and sanitation, decision-making, education, a sustainable environment, protection of personal rights, and freedom from violence.

Moreover, Pillar 2 of Vision 2036 on Human and Social Development, entails gender equality as part and parcel of development.


Director of Ceremonies,

International Women’s Day is a unique opportunity to pay tribute to women all over the world. It is also a moment for all to take stock of the progress made in the area of protection of rights, the changing of mindsets, as well as the empowerment of girls and women in order to ensure that they become a powerful force for development, across all sectors.

The Setswana saying: “Mosadi thari ya sechaba” is quite telling. On the one hand, it confirms that women are indeed the backbone of society. On the other hand, it challenges all of us to ensure that women are not denied the tools and the enabling environment to perform their role as pillars of the nation.

The theme of the 2018 International Women’s Day “Time is now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives” points to the importance of us women taking the lead in changing the situation for the better, in issues that matter most to us.

In that regard, I am proud to be in the company of both seasoned, as well as upcoming practitioners in the areas of women’s rights and women’s economic empowerment.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Be that as it may, I am here to have a personal conversation with you.

My main message is that it all begins with us women. I wish to share with you my perspective on the issues at hand. To begin with, let us RECAP.

The 2016 International Women’s Day campaign tag was for all to make a “Pledge for Parity”. In 2017, the tag was “Bold for Change”, and in 2018 our aim is to “Press for Progress”.

These campaign tags of the commemorations of recent years, are in fact interrelated and interdependent.

The pursuit of Parity, Change and Progress requires the concerted efforts of leaders from all sectors and at all levels. This includes Government, Traditional Leaders, the Private Sector, Civil Society, Communities, Households, and most importantly, Individuals. Let us all bear in mind the question: What can we do for ourselves in order to forge ahead in this Agenda of equality, parity and empowerment?

I wish to place emphasis on the commitment of individuals. This is because without this, institutional or societal aspirations cannot be realised. The little contribution by all of us has made, and will continue to make, the most impact on this journey.

I look at my own life: Having been raised by an extraordinary mother with exceptional mentorship skills made a profound impact on my own life and dreams. Also, being the mother to a 12 year-old daughter, with all the expected challenges, I, at the end of the day, expect that the values and guidance I

put on the table should prevail. In addition, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have also seen and heard great stories of women, both in Botswana and abroad; stories of sheer resilience, of great talent, which have further convinced me that we can truly achieve anything that we want, provided we believe in it. To quote Aphonse de Lamatine: “There is a woman at the beginning of all great things”.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I believe it is very important for us women to RECONFIGURE our mindset and outlook, to seek out hard challenges which result in high benefit and positive impact on ourselves, and the wider society. I am proud to say that such a message resonates with what women are already doing across the board.

Women are excelling in careers and pursuits which, before, were the preserve of men. Gone are the days of ‘ga di ke di etelelwa pele ke dinamagadi’.

In that regard, let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to the women of Botswana who continue to be trail blazers for fellow women folk in various professions, business, arts, sciences, agriculture, amongst others. You must do more by deliberately seeking out unexplored areas, as well as unmet and unarticulated needs, so as to open up opportunities for innovation.

My message, in this regard, is that it does not matter which industry, sector or profession one is interested in; what matters is that whatever you decide to pursue, you should perform your tasks with a spirit of excellence, commitment and pride. In that way, you will yield incredible results.


Director of Ceremonies,

Allow me to now introduce the subject of RETOOLING. I wish to discuss this concept in broad terms, that is, to encourage all of you to consider yourselves as the architects of your own re-tooling, and of those with whom you have contact.

In pursuit of all-rounded empowerment, I encourage, especially the younger generation, to seek knowledge by reading widely. Particularly those interested in business, it is important to hone your skills, to become experts in your areas of interest. This includes, but is not limited to, partnering and networking with others, joining or even establishing clubs, seeking mentors or even becoming a mentor yourself.

Some of the other attributes that will bode well for the common good include making ourselves accessible to others. I call especially on those who are experienced and successful in their fields, to come to the party. In that way, you will be creating opportunities for other women.

We must also celebrate the success of others, and in this respect, the media fraternity has an instrumental role to play, by ensuring wide coverage of women on various media platforms. In our private spaces, we should also celebrate the worth of those close to us, be they mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, friends or colleagues. Such recognition will undoubtedly motivate all to achieve even more.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

The last concept I wish to discuss is that of REAFFIRMATION. Let us all make a personal pledge to ourselves, that we will do our very best to uncover and support the talent embedded throughout Botswana amongst our girls and women. That we will take deliberate steps to Press for Progress, bearing in mind the following:

l Attainment of gender parity mindset,

l Challenging gender stereotypes and bias,

l Promoting the visibility of women,

l Encouraging others to believe in themselves, and,

l Celebrating women’s achievements.

This discussion, you will have noted, focussed on the processes involved in the conceptualisation of our ideas, contemplation and action. These are RECAPPING, RECONFIGURATION RETOOLING and REAFFIRMATION, or, if you, wish, the Four R’s.

With these few words, I wish you fruitful deliberations and success in achieving the women’s empowerment agenda. I thank you for your attention. PULA!

*Last weekend’s remarks by incoming First Lady, Neo Jane Maswabi-Masisi on the occasion of the International Women’s Day commemorative event organised by Career Coaching at Mokolodi I.

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