It is on record that compared to their counterparts in the rest of the SADC region, women in Botswana are trailing behind in positions of leadership.
According to the SADC Gender Protocol Report of 2020, women representation in Cabinet in Botswana is at a paltry 18.4 percent, in the 12th Parliament 11 percent and only 26 percent are in foreign missions.
This is against a backdrop that 52 percent of Botswana’s population of 2.3 million is women and girls.
Speaking at a Women’s Empowerment Conference at Jehovah Potters Church in Francistown recently, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Peggy Serame, challenged women to follow three routes of empowerment – political, economic and financial independence.
“We need to make sure before we vote for men, we vote for ourselves first,” she said. “We must nominate women into key positions. As women, we have the advantage of numbers (and) so we can influence all outcomes where numbers are needed.”
She noted that the number of women who are permanent secretaries and deputy permanent secretaries demonstrates that females have the highest levels of capability to lead in public service.
“Currently 30.8 percent of permanent secretaries are women while women who are deputy permanent secretaries and Directors are 37 percent and 43 percent respectively,” said the minister.
Serame, who is the first Motswana woman appointed Minister of Finance, said another critical area that women need to be empowered in is economic and financial independence, adding that the level of financial literacy among women in Botswana is worrisome and hampers their participation in the economy and finance such as acquiring land and other assets.
Nevertheless, she called on women to participate in economic empowerment activities and to stop being spectators. “The time is now to get those top jobs and top investment opportunities,” Serame said. “Ensure the girl child has equal access to education and makes the most of them.”
Even so, she said Botswana is on the right trajectory in empowering the girl child. As of 2018, 58 percent of enrolment in tertiary institutions is female, she noted.
“Meaning 14 females for every 10 male students. This augurs well for the upcoming female generations.”
Women were urged to build strategic and destiny relationships. Acquire knowledge and make use of government agencies such as CEDA, NBFIRA, NDB and Gender affairs empowerment programmes