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Botswana launches State of the World’s Children 2007 report on gender equality

© UNICEF Botswana/2007
Atlasaone, a child from the Motswedi Rehabilitation Centre, makes a comment during the ‘Children’s Talk Show’ on gender equality held prior to the launch in Botswana of UNICEF’s flagship repor.

By Mercy Puso

GABORONE, Botswana, 9 May 2007 – A lively group gathered here last month as UNICEF Representative in Botswana Barbara Reynolds launched UNICEF’s flagship publication, ‘The State of the World’s Children 2007’. The subject of the report is the double dividend that gender equality pays for both women and their children in terms of health, education and development.

Some 60 people attended the launch and panel discussion, including ambassadors and embassy officials, and a representative from ‘Ntlo ya Dikgosi’ – Botswana’s House of Chiefs – as well as members of the media, researchers and representatives from non-governmental and youth organizations.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Reynolds pointed out the progress made on gender equality both globally and in Botswana. But “even though we are on the right track, we cannot just sit there – otherwise we will get run over,” she cautioned.

Ms. Reynolds emphasized the need to work with men and boys so that power is shared – and also to reach out to women themselves who, as custodians of culture and traditions, can actually perpetuate their own inequality.

© UNICEF Botswana/2007
Ms. Molokomme (left) of Emang Basadi Women’s Association and Dr. Ntseane from the University of Botswana take part in a panel discussion on gender equality.

Equality in representation

Also on hand at the launch of the report was the President of Emang Basadi Women’s Association, who gave an example of inequality in Botswana, noting that men are still able to dispose of household property without prior consent of the spouse.

Research Associate Khutsafalo Sekolokwane from the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis spoke on equality in employment. She said the country’s large and higher-paying mineral sector, and employers such as the police and military, hire mostly men, leaving low-paying jobs such as clerical and domestic work as options for women. 

“For many years, gender inequality has been perceived as a women’s issue,” added University of Botswana lecturer Gabo Ntseane. “This attitude has to change if we are to achieve equality in political representation and participation.”

Poetry vs. sexism

Other speakers included the Principal Programming Officer of the National AIDS Coordinating Agency and Caroline Davids Okello-Wengi from the Women’s Affairs Department.

The event was preceded by a ‘Children’s Talk Show’ at which 100 children aged 10 to 18 from across the country had an opportunity to address gender equality from a child’s perspective. The session was videotaped and formed part of the basis of the discussion at the launch.

Thabang Matlhape, 12, from Setlalekgosi Community Junior Secondary School, presented his perspective in a poem entitled ‘Sexism’ that included these lines:

Our work place is full of sexist; our churches are full of sexist. Sexism is an issue, is alive, it is kicking. We need to think about it, and fight it.



UNICEF Policy on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Girls and Women

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