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Source: Government of Botswana
Botswana remains one of the lowest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region in representation of women in politics.

Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Ms Botlogile Tshireletso said this recently at the commemoration of women's day and SADC gender monitor launch....

SADC Gender monitor, launched under the theme, "equality for women progress for all" provides information that SADC member states need to improve their efforts to ensure equal representation in all SADC structures and institutions.

Thus, the assistant minister said it was everyone's responsibility in government, political party structures, private sector and civil society, noting that it was essential to make concerted and deliberate efforts to ensure women were appointed to leadership positions.

Ms Tshireletso further indicated that a lot still needed to be done, especially in political structures and institutions. She added that numbers of women in politics were very low, especially in Parliament and cabinet.

"It is my hope that we will improve especially in view of the upcoming elections in Botswana," she said. SADC, she said, was fully committed to promoting sustainable and equitable socio-economic growth and development that would ensure poverty alleviation with the ultimate goal to eradicate it.

That, she said could only be achieved if both genders in the society were fully involved and given a chance to fully participate in all spheres of life including decision making.

She added that SADC head of states and government have committed themselves to ensuring equal representation of women and men in decision making of member states and SADC structures at all levels by 2015 in line with the African Union gender parity principle.

SADC Gender Protocol on Gender and Development which was adopted by SADC heads of state and government in August 2008, in articles 4, 12 and 13 also emphasise the importance of 50:50 target on representation of women and men in politics and decision making positions in SADC.

Ms Tshireletso stated that SADC member states have committed to increase women's representation in politics and decision making positions, put in place legislation, policy and programmes to ensure equal representation of men and women in political and decision making positions.

She also noted that SADC committed to support and strengthen the capacity of women to participate fully through leadership, gender sensitive training and monitoring as well as put in place policies, strategies and programmes for changing discriminatory attitudes, transforming the patriarchal culture and norms prevalent in decision making structures and procedures.

Acting Executive Secretary at SADC Secretariat, Mr Remigious Makumbe stated that SADC region has recorded commendable milestones in achieving gender equality and women's empowerment over the years.

Mr Makumbe noted that on women's health, the region realised reduction of maternal mortality rates, while in education, most member states were on course to achieve the gender parity in enrolment rates of boys and girls at both primary and secondary school levels.

Member states, he said, have incorporated gender perspectives in their education policies, programmes and curriculum, among other successes.

Mr Makumbe stated that on governance, SADC member states have realised an increase of women representation and participation in the public and private spheres.

He also highlighted that Malawi was the first member state in the region to have a woman President who also performed leadership roles on various key issues at the regional, continental and global level.

He observed that at Cabinet level, there has been a steady and consistent upward trend in the number of women representation in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Botswana, Mozambique and Tanzania, he said, have women speakers of Parliament, and women deputy speakers of Parliament in Angola, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In addition, Mr Makumbe noted that at Central Government level, the region still had a long way to go in achieving gender parity goal, saying only Botswana, Mauritius and Mozambique were above 30 per cent representation of women on Permanent Secretaries.

He added that Botswana and Malawi were leading in women representation at director levels.

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