As a way of contributing to the constitutional review, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Women’s Wing will over the weekend meet some of its structures in Palapye to get their views on women issues.
BDP Women’s Wing chairperson, Veronica Lesole said they want to submit their position paper to the constitutional review in Gaborone.
She added the weekend seminar will be the second one as they had one covering part of the south region and this one will be catering for the central part of the country.
“We will go up to Ngami, Chobe and the North East areas. But, already the main issue that women are raising is about customary marriage, which does not include the community of property when couples are married. The customary law does not include the community of property and therefore, when a partner dies, the family of the deceased may chase the surviving partner or children without recognising that the partners accumulated a lot of property together,” Lesole said.
“Therefore, women want customary law to have a community of property aspect. The other issue they want to be included is proportional representation (hybrid) of the electoral system, as they believe it could help to increase women’s representation in both Parliament and council. They believe currently under first-past-the-post system there is still that big gap in gender equity and unless it is modified in a way that it would not advantage women.”
Lesole further proposed that a certain quota must be reserved in the Constitution for women in Parliament, council and Cabinet.
She said the Constitution is the fundamental principle that governs the country or is the one guiding any party on how to run, therefore, if the quota for women's representation is provided for, there is no way it could be overlooked.
In addition, Lesole said currently, there is nothing binding any leader on issues of women’s representation and how it could be improved.
“As political women, it is time we come together on issues that affect us politically and even speak for others. Our voice will be heard. The reason why in our seminars we have asked an attorney to be there is for him/her to phrase or help us to present our issues well in a formal manner and guide us,” she said.
Lesole further stated that women also want political funding to be included in the Constitution since parties and individuals are strained financially during election times.
The other key issue that they want to be looked into is the bail application for persons accused of murder. She said as women they are concerned about the manner in which gender-based violence accused are given bail but at the end they go and kill children left behind or family therefore, they should not be granted bail.
On financial issues, Lesole said they are also calling for financial institutions such as the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) to have a certain percentage that could help or motivate women to get loans in order to empower themselves.
“There is a gap between men and women when it comes to issues of finances. If women could be given loans with a certain percentage lower than their male counterparts then it could motivate them to do something,” she said.
“Women are afraid to get CEDA loans because of such. Women need to be assisted so that their lives could become better.”