The Botswana Stock Exchange celebrated its March 8 2019 Opening Bell session by recognising and celebrating the International Women’s Day as well. Shiela Tlou, an internationally recognised philanthropist and co-Chair of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition and Co-Chair of the Nursing Now Global Campaign was the rightful guest of honour for this important day. Coincidentally, Ms Tlou had been waiting all her life for a day to come when she would be invited by a stock exchange to a bell ringing session. This is after she had accompanied the former President Quet Masire to a bell ringing session in New York in the years gone by and had cherished the dream.
Tlou told the gathering of mostly women that all over the world, women are getting a raw deal starting from the salaries they earn to being abused and burdened by toiling long hours of unpaid labour. “Women do not celebrate because they have a long way to go. When we went to Beijing for the inaugural women’s conference, a lot of partriachal men accused us of being influened by the western way of life where women had more liberties and can freely question the status quo without feeling guilty. However, for Botswana, the trip to Beijing was beneficial in that we managed to change 22 laws that were inhibiting and discriminating on the lives of women. The last two laws that we put together were on demestic violence. And thanks to that, now partners in Marriage have to co-sign and apend teir signatures as couples before taing decisions athat affect their livilihoods and families.”
She was optimistic that the celebrated change of the laws would be sustainable for a very long time to come. As a Motswana who has traversed the entire globe doing her work as a leader in her respect, she said most people especially african men where not forthcoming to the change that she brought to some of the organisations that she was heading. However and luckily for her, many of the gender friendly changes that she enacted were eagerly accepted later, albeit with a marked dragging of feet, literrally.
Shiela Tlou had words of advice to the hosts, the Botswana Stock Exchange. She said although she was happy with the gender equality programmes at their offices as presented by Mpho Mogosha, the Head of Finance and Administration, she felt there were some important cosmetic additions that would entirely make the policies all inclusive. “I advice you to tolerate gender and sexual orientation here because you might not know that there are amongst your employees here who have a different sexual orientation that you can currently imagine. We want to get over the moaning and groaning period. We want to see a time when there will be adequate parental leave for even same sex parents. You should also be at liberty to set gender neutral objectives in addition to the ones already here.”
She decried the fact that even the Botswana government does not have a prescribed intent to shelter those that have been abused in their relationships. “Our own government doesn’t own shelters that carter for such persons, be they men or women,” she said. She said there should be advocating for the provision for the adolescence to have access to reproductive health services. She said although the current state of women in the world is on the sorry side, she was very optimistic that the future looked bright for the female-folk. “About 740 million women make their living through informal means. If we could invest in young people now, the world would double its current status by 2050. “The future is bright, the future is female,” Tlou said to raucous applause from gathered participants. Gender equality is a right, she added.