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Botswana observes the 2014 International Women’s Day

Lerala Village in Tswapong North, Palapye Sub-District hosted the 2014 International Women’s Day (IWD) which was commemorated under the theme: Equality for Women is Progress for All. The Key Note Address was given by the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Hon Edwin Batshu. The acting UN Resident Coordinator, Ms A. Camara-Drammeh, delivered a statement providing an international perspective on the theme.

In her remarks, Ms Camara-Drammeh indicated that the observance of the day provided an opportunity to recognize and reflect on progress made on women’s rights, women’s empowerment and the advancement of gender equality. She indicated that the United Nations began celebrating the International Women’s Day on the 8th of March in 1975. She acknowledged that although progress has been slow and uneven, some achievements have been attained since CEDAW and the Beijing Declaration of 1995. Notable progress was in labour-market and education where participation rates of women have risen. She reported that fewer women die in pregnancy and childbirth and more women are in leadership positions. She commended the Government of Botswana for its leadership role and being a role model in gender equality and women’s empowerment for many developing countries.

On his behalf, Hon Minister Batshu confirmed that Botswana has made significant strides in issues relating to gender equality and women’s empowerment. He indicated that women demonstrated that when given the opportunity they can excel and in some instances perform beyond expectations. The Minister acknowledged the collaboration and support from development partners, including the UN, in the advancement of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the country. Substantiating the Minister’s statement, the Director of Gender Affairs Department, Ms Mogegeh, indicated that a number of women have ventured into income-earning jobs and businesses. She noted that the department is supporting and guiding those women who are aspiring to venture into those businesses. The director noted that gender stereotyping has declined and there is a rise in mutual respect by both women and men. Statements from various speakers indicated the decline in socio-economic gaps between men and women, the need for men to be involved in women’s empowerment, challenges persisting in uplifting women’s lives and most goals not yet achieved.

The event was well attended by invited guests, authorities and traditional leaders from surrounding villages, women entrepreneurs and the general public. Entertainment was through drama and traditional dance by local artists. The stalls display was by women entrepreneurs from the host district.

The IWD in Botswana was observed 2 days before the global observance of the 8th of March.