You may like or dislike her, but First Lady Neo Masisi is very clear on her stance on advocacy for women and the girl child.
OAFLAD is an advocacy organisation where First Ladies of Africa seek to leverage their unique position to advocate for policies that make health services accessible and laws that boost women and youth empowerment.
Her secretary, Tshegofatso Maotwe said First Ladies of Africa reinforce favourable policies and programmes through advocacy, resource mobilisation and development of partnerships with relevant stakeholders at all levels.
“In October 2020, our First Lady was nominated together with seven other First Ladies by OAFLAD, to be a recipient of a grant and requested to submit a proposal for use of the grant,” Maotwe said.
“A Project Management Team was constituted comprising various government ministries to submit the proposal, in line with addressing the third area of focus of OAFLAD’s current Strategic Plan, which covers Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH).”
According to Maotwe, the project management team is made up of senior government officials from the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Ministry of Health and Wellness, Ministry of Basic Education, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency, Botswana Police Service and Botswana Prison Service.
The OAFLAD grant recipients were given the option of selecting one of the five thematic areas aligned to the RMNCH pillar: harmful practices: Child Marriage and Female Genital Mutilation, Unmet need for family planning and unsafe abortion, maternal mortality and morbidity, gender-based violence (GBV), including sexual violence and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and AIDS and HPV 45.
On assumption of office, First Lady Masisi prioritised the empowerment of women and adolescent girls.
“Masisi deems (gender-based violence) GBV as a key priority, which requires our urgent action given its high prevalence and impact on women and girls in Botswana, hence the selected area of GBV, including sexual violence. Subsequent to the submission of the grant proposal prepared by the Project Management Team, I am pleased to inform you that the Office of the First Lady was successfully awarded the grant in May 2021,” she added.
She said the First Lady’s campaign will be carried out in six areas being Mogoditshane, Molepolole, Goodhope, Gantsi, Maun and Letlhakane.
She added that the selection of these locations was guided by the available GBV information and data, which pointed at a high prevalence in these areas.
Maotwe further revealed that the campaign will be used as a platform to intensify the national efforts geared towards eradicating GBV including sexual violence amongst adolescent girls and young women across the country. She said the objectives of this project are to increase comprehensive knowledge and skills on GBV prevention.
“This is recognising that prevention is important if we are to work towards eliminating the root causes of gender-based violence,” she said.