Image Source: SADC LinkedIn article
President Lt Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama this week signed and acceded to the Revised SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. The signing ceremony was witnessed by the SADC executive secretary, Dr Stergomena Tax and Botswana cabinet ministers, among them the Minister of Nationality Immigration and Gender Affairs, Mr Edwin Batshu at Office of the President.
The protocol aims to empower women, eliminate discrimination against them, and also achieve gender equality by encouraging and harmonising the development and implementation of gender – responsive legislation, policies and programs. After the signing ceremony, Dr Tax said in an interview that the secretariat and the SADC region welcomed Botswana’s decision to sign the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
She said Botswana had been adhering to the requirement of gender empowerment and that the signing was only testimony to Botswana being part of the Protocol and would continue abiding by the requirements of the gender equality and women empowerment. She said the Protocol came into force in 2008 and was amended in 2016. So far, 14 countries including Botswana have signed, while Mauritius is the only country that has yet to sign.
“The implication is that gender equality and women empowerment is a global thing. We are all promoting it. As you might have noticed, there are disturbing trends whereby in certain instances there is progress while along the way there is backward movement.
So we hope all our member states will abide by the requirements of the Protocol. I call upon everyone to make sure that indeed there is gender equality not only to promote it but to make sure that it is embraced in the economic front and political decision – making,” she said.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Nationality Immigration and Gender Affairs, Ms Banny Molosiwa said Botswana has come a long way in negotiating for the amendment of some of the clauses of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
“I can only thank the SADC member states for agreeing with us, after engaging them with regard to the reservations we were having,” she said.
She said it was important to indicate that despite not being a party to the Protocol, the Botswana government remained committed and had been implementing a lot of what was in the protocol. Ms Molosiwa said Botswana has made substantial progress with regards to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
For her part, the Department of Gender Affairs Director, Ms Thapelo Phuthego said the decision to sign the Protocol was a welcome development. She said initially, Botswana had some reservations with some of the clauses contained within the document. She said when the Protocol came into force, the set timeframes were unrealistic, with serious resource implications that the government could not guarantee because of the instability of the economy at the time.
“Signing at the time would have meant that more funds were diverted towards implementing the Protocol,” she said.
Ms Phuthego further said there was also concern that the language used to craft some of the clauses was prescriptive, thus not giving countries leeway with regard to implementation.
“We are happy that after the revision, timelines have been removed and countries are now free to implement the Protocol according to their affordability.”