Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Women's Wing has expressed gratitude at government's decision to sign the SADC Gender Protocol following the review.
"We are very excited, grateful and happy, as the Women's Wing committee, that government has taken a position to go and sign the SADC Gender Protocol," BDP Women's Wing chairperson, Ms Dorcas Makgato said.
Addressing members of the press on Tuesday, Ms Makgato, also Health and Wellness minister, applauded government's decision to sign the revised SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, which is a commitment of SADC Heads of State in recognition that gender equality is a fundamental human right. The protocol aims to provide for empowerment of women, eliminate discrimination against them, and also achieve gender equality by encouraging and harmonising development and implementation of gender responsive legislation, policies and programmes.
During its Maun Elective Congress' closed proceedings, Ms Makgato said her committee discussed some resolutions, which included socio economic, women empowerment, legal and political structural issues.
The BDP Women's Wing committee, she said also passed a resolution that was accepted by council proposing for a study to be commissioned to look at the sentencing trends of convicted "passion killers" with a view to consider the possibility of having a minimum sentence.
This resolution, Ms Makgato said was also meant to ensure that sentencing trends for these brutal killings were not lenient.
Additionally, she said they also agreed to engage BDP and the relevant ministers 'to see if we could lobby for the changing of the law pertaining to defilement age and have it increased from 16 years to 18 years.'
BDP Women's Wing chairperson expressed gratitude that 'the minister responsible has commented on the proposal and he is in the process of reviewing the law to ensure that the pieces of legislations are aligned.'
The committee, she said had also called for the establishment of specific programmes which focused on political leadership development for women, as part of school curriculum and also budget increase for gender empowerment programmes.
Meanwhile, in its recent press release, Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs explains that the decision to sign comes after a review of the protocol, adding that the revised protocol's targets were more realistic and took into consideration Botswana's concerns.
The release further says the protocol has been harmonised with other SADC instruments to optimise resources and avoid duplication.
"It is important to indicate that whilst Botswana was not a party to the protocol, government remained committed to its ideals and purpose. In that regard, Botswana has made substantial progress regarding gender equality and women empowerment. This resulted in the overall ranking of Botswana at 70 per cent in terms of implementation of the protocol which is above the regional average of 67 per cent," it explains.
Signing of the protocol, as per the release, also solidifies Botswana's commitment to promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women as aligned to the national Vision 2036, the National Development Plan 11 and the National Policy on Gender and Development.