Botswana is not in a position to sign the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, Vice President, Mr Mokgweetsi Masisi has said.
Mr Masisi said this when delivering a keynote address at the official opening of the Gender Links SADC Gender Protocol Regional Summit and Awards 2015 themed, Gender equality now and post 2015, yes we must! on Monday August 10,
He however, said Botswana must not be misconstrued to be in opposition to the inherent principles of gender equality, as the country subscribed to them, evidenced by its achievements.
Gender issues, Mr Masisi said, remained a national priority and pivotal to all developmental processes, adding whilst Botswana had not signed the Protocol, the government continued to review the situation of women and girls and develop targeted interventions.
Recent developments, he said included review of the Married Persons Property Act to allow married persons to change marital status, the Anti-Human Trafficking Act, 2014 to curb trafficking of persons.
Additionally, the Vice President said Botswana also continued to implement its provisions and its performance was measured annually by the SADC Gender Protocol Barometer. He said the SADC Gender Protocol 2015 Barometer indicate that Botswana was the fifth annual tracking report of the country’s performance against the 28 targets of the SADC.
Furthermore, he said the SADC Gender Protocol Barometer set for 2015 had revealed that Botswana has made remarkable progress against the targets of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development set for 2015. He said the Barometer also observed that, “while Botswana has not yet signed the SADC Gender Protocol, legislators in the country remain committed to its ideals and targets.”
Botswana, Mr Masisi said, continued to rank the highest in the region regarding the proportion of women in decision-making positions within the public sector at 43 per cent. Other key successes highlighted by the SADC Gender Protocol 2015 Barometer Botswana, he said included re-integration of girls who dropped out of school due to pregnancy into the education system as well as the high number of girls enrolled in tertiary education.
“For example girls constituted 52 per cent at the University of Botswana, 58 per cent in colleges of education and 68 per cent at teacher training colleges.
Botswana had also registered progress in the health sector where; 90 per cent of births were conducted by trained personnel, 84 per cent of the population lives within 5 kilometres of a quality health facility.
The 96 per cent success rate of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV remains a milestone in the region,” Mr Masisi said.
The survey further reports that media in Botswana had adopted a National Gender Policy to guide gender sensitive content and practice in media houses.
“This year’s theme is indeed suitable as it resonates the goals as set in the Vision 2016 document, in the NDP 10 and also expressed in the Millennium Development Goals which all endeavour amongst other things to improve female participation in the economy,” he said.
The SADC Gender Protocol 2015 Barometer Botswana further indicates that in 2014, Botswana achieved a SADC Gender and Development Index (SGDI) of 70 per cent, adding that Botswana therefore ranks 6th in the region and was above the regional average of 67 per cent.
Botswana, Mr Masisi said was committed to the SADC principles as recognised by its participation in the formulation of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, until its conclusion.
However, he said Botswana indicated its reservations regarding unrealistic targets and time-frame during the formulation of the Protocol, adding that “some of the measures had serious resource implications that as a country, we could not guarantee.”
Other issues which the country objected to include the use of compelling language as well as lack of a reservation clause which could at least allow Botswana to sign and reserve provisions where it had issues, he added.
He said Botswana had made notable achievements in gender equality, and intended to do more, saying however, the reservations expressed above are still relevant and therefore Botswana is not in a position to sign the Protocol.
He also added that Botswana had and continued to support and sponsor women citizens in their endeavour to occupy senior positions, locally and internationally. To date, Mr Masisi said, 43 per cent of senior positions in the public service were occupied by women, whilst in the judiciary over 60 per cent of the magistrates were women.
“In the recent past, we have seen women being recognised and appointed to the High Court bench. Our traditional institutions such as Ntlo Ya Dikgosi and the Customary Court also have women representation,” he added .BOPA