Hiking groups walk against GBV
A speaker at a ceremony to hand over funds raised in a walk against GBV has noted how women in Botswana are bearing the brunt of the country’s contracting economy under the burden of COVID-19.
Several hiking clubs gathered in Gaborone on Wednesday this week to hand over funds to selected beneficiaries after raising the money when they stepped out in a walk against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in November last year.
Six hiking clubs, namely Mosepele Hiking Club, Walk of Life, Diyathoteng, Kgatleng Hiking Club and Keep Walking Club, came together for the greater good of supporting women and children in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the project’s Public Relations Officer, Olebogeng Oitebetse, the GBV walk took place in the Greater Gaborone zone, started out at the Three Magosi Monument in the Gaborone Central Business District (CBD). The walkers traversed the suburbs of Gaborone West Industrial, Kgale View, Phase 2, Phase 4 and Mogoditshane over two consecutive days to raise awareness of the impact of GBV in Botswana.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, Oitebetse said the clubs decided to embark on the walk to raise funds for NGOs that help children and women. The project raised P54 000 that was divided among Stepping Stones International, Emang Basadi and Kula BW Foundation, each of which received P18 000.
Oitebetse called for increased cooperation between government, civil society and the private sector in a multilateral approach to solving the world’s biggest challenges, among which GBV ranks high.
“As hiking clubs, we pride ourselves in having made a commitment to promotion of awareness of Gender-Based Violence (GBV),” she said. “Attainment of a non-sexist society that has a high regard for and appreciation for women as integral members of our communities is paramount.”
She characterised GBV as the highest manifestation of sexist domination that exists because patriarchy gave men an enormous symbolic and material power. “This violence is a consequence of the construction of masculinity in patriarchal societies,” Oitebetse said.
It should be recognised that the Covid-19 pandemic is an additional burden on the marginalised, women in Botswana among them, she noted. “When jobs get lost, normally women are the first to face unemployment,” Oitebetse asserted. “When households endure strain because of a contracting economy, women bear the brunt of societal frustration. It therefore holds true that to remedy a nation and to recover economic fortunes, we should invest in women.”
Speaking on behalf of the sponsors, Head of Political Press and Information at the European Union, Silvia Bopp-Hamrouni, said the EU strives to be at the forefront on issues of the GBV and protection of human life and rights because the effects of GBV last for a lifetime. Hamrouni noted that the EU assists people-centred causes such as this walk because women in Botswana, like women in the rest of the world, are at the risk of GBV.