Gender protocols signed by African countries are said to be hardly ever implemented. Botswana is one of the countries that lag behind in respect of gender equality and in signing and implementing gender protocols.
According to Dr. Martin Mwondha chief executive officer of the East African Civil Society Organisation Forum (EACSOF), these protocols aim to better women’s positions in society, but women lack education on their rights and on these protocols; this was one of the reasons gender protocols were often not implemented.
“The average African woman still lacks education on her rights; hence women do not possess the knowledge of how to fight for protocols to be fully implemented. African women, despite the reduced gap in education between genders, remain spectators in governance and the everyday running of their countries.” Only a few women understand the protocols and try to advocate for them, but their effort lacks support, especially the countries’ leadership, and political will.
Mwondha represented East African countries during an African civil society meeting with the Southern African Development Community Council of Non Governmental Organisation (SADC-CNGO) and the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF).
Botswana has declined to sign and ratify the SADC Gender and Development protocol and has four women parliamentarians out of 57 legislators. It emerged that only 13 countries in Africa have reached or passed the 30% target for women representation in parliaments.
A representative from (WACSOF) in Nigeria, Adeomi Abayomi, noted that civil society could play an immense role in advocating for gender protocols to be implemented, but often find themselves silenced by the governments of the day as they are usually seen as enemies of the government. He also observed that the very same states that sign the protocols lack understanding of what they have signed. “These countries sign the protocols and sit on them as they also lack understanding of the protocols; hence advocacy campaigns are crucial to drive protocol implementation.”
Africa so far has only two African women presidents - in Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Malawi’s Alice Banda. The appointment of South Africa’s Dr Nkosazana Dlamini -Zuma as chairperson of the African Union is however said to be a beacon of hope for African women to take leadership roles in international institutions.